In a recent poll conducted by Stockton University, it was revealed that a majority of New Jersey adults, about 57%, often or sometimes encounter the smell of cannabis in public spaces. Among the respondents, 28% reported frequently smelling cannabis, while another 29% said they encountered the odor on occasion. Conversely, 32% of those surveyed claimed to rarely smell cannabis in public, and 9% stated that they had never experienced this olfactory phenomenon.
Despite the prevalence of cannabis odors in the public sphere, a significant portion of respondents appeared unfazed by it. Approximately 52% of those surveyed expressed that the smell of cannabis did not bother them. However, 19% of respondents admitted that the odor bothered them significantly, while 28% said it bothered them slightly.
John Froonjian, the director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, commented on the findings, emphasizing that the issue of cannabis odor becoming a part of the public landscape in New Jersey had not received much attention. He noted that the lack of legally designated spaces for cannabis consumption has led people to light up in parks, at festivals, in parking lots, and on the streets.
Froonjian explained, “There are hardly any places to legally consume these products, so people are lighting up in parks, at festivals, in parking lots, and on the street.”
Last year, New Jersey regulators approved rules for cannabis consumption lounges; however, only a few have opened since then.
The poll also delved into the issue of cannabis odors emanating from residential areas. About 29% of poll respondents indicated that they frequently or sometimes smelled cannabis coming from neighboring houses or apartments. Among them, 14% reported often smelling the odor, while 15% said they encountered it on occasion. In contrast, 21% claimed that they rarely smelled cannabis at home, and 49% said they never did.
Regarding the rights of residents and the concerns of neighbors, 31% of those surveyed believed that the right to smoke cannabis in one’s own home should take precedence, even if it creates an odor for neighbors. In contrast, 16% thought that the comfort of residents not having to endure the smell from neighbors was of greater importance.
The survey also explored attitudes toward driving under the influence of cannabis. The results showed that a majority of respondents, 56%, claimed they did not know anyone who had driven while under the influence of cannabis. Conversely, 39% of those surveyed said they were aware of individuals who had engaged in such behavior.
However, the poll unveiled an interesting disparity in perceptions of impairment. While 51% of residents believed that driving under the influence of cannabis was extremely dangerous, this percentage was substantially lower than the 90% who held the same view about driving under the influence of alcohol.
Furthermore, the survey indicated that 73% of respondents considered it very important (46%) or somewhat important (27%) to have a roadside test capable of determining a person’s level of impairment from cannabis. Only 10% of those surveyed regarded the development of such a test as not very important, and 13% believed it was not important at all.
The poll’s findings reflect the evolving landscape of cannabis consumption and the challenges and concerns faced by residents and policymakers in New Jersey. As cannabis legalization continues to expand, addressing issues related to odor, impaired driving, and public consumption spaces will become increasingly important.