Are you planning to get high this week?

Recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey could approach half a billion dollars by the end of 2023, which will mean tens of millions of cannabis tax revenue collected.

New Jersey residents have some very specific ideas on how that money should be spent.

According to Ashley Koning, the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University, a survey finds the majority of New Jerseyans would like the tax revenue from recreational marijuana to go toward education and public health initiatives.

Photo by Grav on Unsplash
Photo by Grav on Unsplash
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Smoke pot, help society

“Twenty-three percent of New Jerseyans say that education should be the state’s top priority for funding, and another 21% say the same thing about public and community health initiatives, including drug treatment centers,” Koning said.

And while these two issues are tops for those polled, they aren't the only issues members of the public feel strongly about for funding.

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“About 15% say affordable housing development, 13% say transportation and infrastructure, and then 11% say funding for police, courts and prisons,” Koning said.

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Democrats and Republicans feel differently

The poll finds when it comes to spending marijuana tax revenue, there is a partisan divide.

Koning said 25% of Democrats and independents think having funding to support education should be the top priority, “whereas Republicans at 16% vote education as the top priority."

What tops the list for Republicans? It's public safety.

According to the poll, 21% of Republicans believe police, courts and prisons should be priority number one.

Koning said the survey also finds there are differences among racial and ethnic groups when it comes to how pot tax money should be spent.

“Black residents are more likely than residents of other races and ethnicities to feel the state should primarily invest the revenue in affordable housing development, 38% among Black residents compared to about 1 in 10 among other races or ethnicities,” Koning said.

Only 4% of New Jerseyans think the revenue should be used for campaigns warning of the dangers of substance use.

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(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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Some people just aren't sure

Thirteen percent of respondents either gave another answer or said they didn’t really know what the revenue should be spent on.

Koning said with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission currently holding public hearings to assess what the public thinks the money should be used for, “it’s good to scientifically assess what public opinion in the state actually has to say.”

The next scheduled Cannabis Regulatory Commission public hearing is scheduled for March 2 in Trenton.

The results are from a statewide poll of 1,006 adults contacted on landlines and cell phones from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8, 2022. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

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