Opinions about marijuana have undergone a serious change in recent years, as evidenced by changes to the laws in places like Michigan and Colorado. Marijuana is not as freely legal as other substances, but it is legal in certain amounts and with government control and regulation.
However, it is important to remember that it is still illegal in New Jersey. Many people have started to think that it's not as important to follow these laws since they're changing in other states. It has led to a more relaxed attitude. But, for college students in New Jersey, an arrest could lead to:
- Jail time
- Loss of financial aid
- A permanent criminal record
- Possible expulsion from school
- Difficulty finding a job
- Trouble getting into specific programs at school
Moreover, many schools have their own codes of conduct. They can take action when students get in trouble with the law, depending on what the students agreed to when they enrolled.
Charges are often more drastic than students realize until they find themselves in legal trouble. For instance, if they carry rolling papers with them on campus, they could get charged with intent to distribute. That's more serious than simple possession.
If things are still this strict in New Jersey, why are people starting to think about marijuana in this more relaxed manner that can lead to violations? A lot of it has to do with whether or not people think that marijuana should be legal. It's not, but public opinion on this is different now than it has ever been before.
For instance, per the Pew Research Center, if you go back to 1969, a full 84% of Americans thought that marijuana should remain illegal. A mere 12% said they thought it should be legal.
That's a bit surprising considering the reputation that we give the 60s, but it appears that marijuana was not as strongly supported then as it is today.
If you fast forward to 2018, researchers found that 62 percent of Americans now think it should be legal. Just 34 percent think that it should not. So, not only do the majority of people think the government should legalize marijuana, but around twice as many people support legalization as well support it staying illegal.
When did the shift happen? It has been happening slowly since 1969, but the real change came just after 2010. That's when the two lines on the graph crossed each other, showing that half of people supported legalization and half did not. After decades of support for anti-marijuana laws, things evened out and then slowly began moving in the opposite direction.
Again, no matter what public opinion says, marijuana is illegal. If you find yourself facing criminal charges, you need to understand your rights.