GALLOWAY – Polls have shown that a high percentage of Americans favor legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Most support taxing its sale, as alcohol is taxed. Yet as marijuana use increases, many people say they don’t want to smell it.
A Stockton University poll that came out just as Cape May County’s first licensed cannabis retailer is poised for a grand opening found that 57% of those polled reported smelling marijuana in public places. It found that 29% said they smell it often in public spaces, while an equal number, 28%, said they smell it sometimes.
While a majority said the smell does not bother them, one in five (19%) said it annoys them a great deal. Another 28% said it bothers them slightly.
The smell can be an issue between neighbors. According to the poll results, 29% have often (14%) or sometimes (15%) picked up the scent coming from a neighbor’s house. A near-majority, 49%, said they never smell it at home.
“Not much thought was given to the issue of the smell of marijuana becoming part of the public landscape in New Jersey,” said John Froonjian, director of Stockton’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy. He added that “people are lighting up in parks, at festivals, in parking lots and on the street.”
Even though the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved cannabis consumption lounges, very few have opened up. The lounges would have to be connected to cannabis dispensary sites and follow rules concerning food and alcohol sales.
Emotions can run high on the issue of marijuana smell. This year in Cleveland a woman sued her neighbor, claiming the smell is a public nuisance.
The Stockton poll dealt with another issue animating public debate, the use of cannabis in connection with driving. Some 39% of the poll respondents said they know someone who has driven while high on marijuana. Fewer adults (51%) in the poll considered driving under the influence of marijuana to be extremely dangerous compared to those (90%) who think driving drunk is extremely perilous.
The poll respondents did largely agree (73%) that it is very important (46%) or somewhat important (27%) to have a roadside test that can determine impairment from marijuana. Party identity was linked to the degree of importance attached to such a roadside test. Republicans (62%) said such a test is very important; for Democrats that number is 42%, and for independents, 45%.
On almost all of the poll questions a more relaxed position regarding the smell of marijuana was tied to whether the respondent had consumed any cannabis products in the last year.
Cape May County’s first licensed cannabis retailer, Shore House Canna in West Cape May, has scheduled its grand opening for Saturday, Oct. 28. It had a soft opening in September.
Contact the author, Vince Conti, at firstname.lastname@example.org.