New York’s Shaky Legal Marijuana Rollout

Marist New York State Poll

Broad Support for Legal Recreational Marijuana AND Big Concerns in NYC About Rollout

While majorities of New Yorkers are broadly supportive of the state’s three-year-old law legalizing the sale and recreational use of marijuana, the widely panned rollout has hit a nerve in New York City. Nearly three in ten city residents (29%) say the problem of illegal weed shops is very serious while only 14% of suburban residents and 11% of upstaters say the same.

Unlicensed Weed Stores
Do you think the number of illegal or unlicensed shops that sell marijuana products is a very serious problem, a somewhat serious problem, not a very serious problem, or not a problem at all in the area where you live?
Source: Marist Poll New York State Adults. Interviews conducted April 8th through April 10th, 2024, n=1,408 MOE +/- 3.1 percentage points. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • A majority of New York City residents (57%) say illegal or unlicensed stores are a very serious or somewhat serious problem where they live. Far fewer of those who reside in the suburbs (35%) and Upstate (34%) share this view.

  • Nonetheless, majorities across New York say the law to legalize recreational marijuana has been a good thing for the state (56%) and that they support legal recreational use (61%).

  • Nearly six in ten New Yorkers (59%) favor allowing licensed marijuana dispensaries stores in their towns, however, there is a significant partisan difference. While 70% of Democrats say this, 53% of voters not enrolled in a major party and just 43% of Republicans agree.

  • A majority (55%) says legal weed has made no difference in their local quality of life while 16% say it’s improved it, and 28% say it’s made it worse.

The one thing about marijuana that New Yorkers most agree on is the social acceptability of using it. Twice as many New Yorkers say they think it’s socially acceptable to use weed (66%) than not (33%).

"Despite the state’s rocky rollout of licensed marijuana stores, New Yorkers are generally supportive of legal marijuana," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. "But in New York City where, by some estimates, thousands of illegal stores operate, there is a lot of concern about the impact."