New Yorkers Want Recreational Cannabis Access

A new poll indicates more than half of New Yorkers support recreational marijuana legalization.

It may seem like a no-brainer to some but in case there was any doubt, New Yorkers do want access to recreational cannabis.

Data released in early October from the Sienna College Research Institute found that most New York residents support recreational cannabis legalization and many New Yorkers already consume cannabis.

In the new survey of New York adults, 56 percent support recreational cannabis legalization. More than half of respondents (52 percent) said they have used marijuana and 21 percent said they currently do consume cannabis, despite adult use being illegal.

Thirteen percent have purchased cannabis legally in another state and 44 percent said they know someone who purchased cannabis legally from an outside state.

Twenty-seven percent of all New Yorkers responded that if marijuana becomes legal in the state, they will consume it. Of those respondents, 40 percent are ages 18-34 and 36 percent are ages 35-49.

The recent poll adds to the mounting evidence of support for recreational legalization in the state. A 2018 Quinnipiac University poll found similar results. The 2018 poll showed support for legalization by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

Marijuana Considered Least Harmful Public Health Worry

While the Sienna College poll does reflect an overall majority support, it also highlights the fears involved with full marijuana legalization. Despite findings indicating the contrary, 53 percent of respondents said they “believe legalization will lead to more use and abuse among young people,” while 47 percent think legal cannabis will lead to workplace problems.

Still, the Sienna College poll indicates that New Yorkers find marijuana least harmful compared to other public health worries.

“Marijuana is seen as the least serious from a list that also includes obesity, tobacco and alcohol,” stated Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy.

The Sienna College Research Institute poll was conducted from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1 by random telephone sampling on 589 adults combined with 217 responses from an online panel. All respondents were 18 or older and were residents of New York.

New York Cannabis Laws

In Dec. 2018, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged his support to create a program for regulated adult-use cannabis in 2019. While more work around the topic has been done under current state lawmakers, including passing decriminalization laws, recreational cannabis is still illegal in the state.

In September, Cuomo vowed to meet with leaders from neighboring states, Connecticut and New Jersey, to create a common recreational marijuana program. By working together on a recreational cannabis package, Cuomo said the state could avoid competition and driving under the influence.

A 2019 report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government showed the financial and economic upside of recreational cannabis legalization. According to the analysis, a legal adult-use cannabis market in New York State could generate from $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion and create up to 63,270 cannabis-related jobs for the state.

New York lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in 2014 with the passing of the Compassionate Care Act (Assembly Bill 6357), which allows qualified patients access to non-smokable marijuana products. As of July 2019, there were 104,775 patients certified in the New York medical marijuana program.

More on Cannabis

Find out more about cannabis laws in the U.S., including which states have full legalization, which states have some form of access, and what states have yet to legalize cannabis in any capacity. Find out by visiting our Where Is Marijuana Legal? page.

To find the latest reports on cannabis news in business, policy and scientific research, visit our news page.