A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions want to eliminate all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but governor Chris Christie is opposed

As with the rest of the country attitudes towards marijuana policy are shifting rapidly in New Jersey. There is overwhelming support in the state for a full decriminalization of pot. According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll 65 percent of voters want to eliminate all penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana.

A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions back this policy. In fact the only subgroups in the state that actually disagree with this change are Republicans and Conservatives. Republicans oppose this change 56 percent to 41 percent. This unfortunately should make it difficult to pressure Gov. Chris Christie (R) on the issue, since he is currently very focused on winning over Republicans votersfor a possible 2016 Presidential bid.

The poll also found a narrow plurality of voters want the sale and use of marijuana to be “completely legalized.” Among voters 49 percent back the complete legalizing of marijuana sales while 48 percent disagree. This represents a dramatic 14 point increase in support for full legalization since the end of 2011 when they last polled on the issue. That is a huge shift in less than four years.

Not surprisingly, support for legalization  is strongest among Democrats, Liberals and young voters while opposition mainly comes from Republicans, Conservatives, and senior citizens.

These result are almost identical to a Monmouth University poll from earlier this month. It found 48 percent in support of legalized cannabis for personal use and 47 percent opposed.

 Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 this week.

Photo by Peter Stevens, used under Creative Commons license