A recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, conducted in partnership with researchers Nathan Link of Rutgers University – Camden and Jordan Hyatt of Drexel University, revealed where New Jerseyans would like the state to invest revenue from cannabis sales.
The majority, approximately 50% of the respondents, indicated that education and public health initiatives should be the primary focus of spending. The poll showed that 23% and 21% of the respondents supported spending cannabis revenue on education and public and community health initiatives, respectively. Less than 20% of respondents felt that the revenue should be spent on affordable housing development or transportation and infrastructure, and just 11% of respondents supported funding for police, courts, and prisons. Only 4% of New Jerseyans supported using the revenue for campaigns on the dangers of substance use, and 13% either had a different answer or were unsure about where the revenue should be spent. When combining the first and second priorities, about half of all New Jerseyans agreed that the revenue should be spent on education and public health initiatives.
According to Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University – New Brunswick, the poll results indicate that New Jerseyans would like policymakers and community leaders to prioritize equity and justice, as the preferences spanned a range of important state issues. However, the results also highlighted a divide by partisan lines, with Democrats and independents more likely than Republicans to support investing in education and public health initiatives, while Republicans prioritized funding for police, courts, and prisons. The poll also showed that Black residents were more likely than other racial or ethnic groups to feel that the revenue should primarily be invested in affordable housing development.
“This is a significant poll, and the results highlight a critical need for conversation,” stated Nathan Link, assistant professor and graduate director in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Rutgers-Camden. “New Jersey’s cannabis legislation sets it apart from other states that have legalized and decriminalized cannabis, with its potential to generate revenue that benefits social and racial justice. By implementing a permanent funding structure, the state can target schools, health, and the well-being of disadvantaged communities in New Jersey.”