A new Yahoo News/Marist poll finds 52 percent of adult Americans say they have tried marijuana at least once. But New Jerseyans are still divided about whether legalization is a good idea.

A June 2015 Fairleigh Dickinson University/Public Mind Poll found 49 percent support personal pot use, 46 percent opposed it.

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Washington-based pro-pot group Marijuana Policy Project, says "the biggest reason is that it is objectively safer than alcohol, which is already legal, and more and more people are starting to realize that."

Fox says there are no hard numbers about the percentage of New Jerseyans who have tried marijuana.

"It is difficult to apply that number to individual states. But I would argue that it is probably roughly the same in individual states as it is nationally."

Angelo Valente, of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, advises a "go-slow" approach to legalization in Jersey or anywhere else.

"I think that once we see the legalization momentum take hold in any state, it provides a signal to young people that this is acceptable and safe."

He feels that may not be the right message.

"We know that the brain is still developing until someone is well into their 20s. And I think that there is still not sufficient research about the impact that marijuana might have on the developing brain."

"I think that the legalization issues, and the fact that some states have legalized marijuana, has made it more acceptable with certain individuals. But I think that what we are learning is that certain individuals in the states that have legalized marijuana are dealing with issues and I think that it is a good opportunity for us in New Jersey to evaluate, both the negative and positive aspects of legalization."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5


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