NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A recent survey by KRQE News 13 is gauging how people feel about marijuana legalization and marijuana-related expungement. More than 600 people responded — including people that have consumed cannabis and folks who haven’t.
The survey asked users to rate the threat that marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, and methamphetamines pose to safety in New Mexico. Of the 607 people who answered the question, only about 17% thought marijuana posed an extreme threat. Nearly half of respondents, on the other hand, thought that alcohol posed an extreme threat, and roughly a quarter of people thought that prescription drugs were an extreme threat. Methamphetamines, unsurprisingly, were rated as an extreme threat by more than half of the survey-takers.
Of those who thought marijuana poses an extreme threat to safety, almost all indicated that they are extremely worried that legalized marijuana will lead to impaired driving. Of those who indicated that marijuana posed no threat to safety, the majority weren’t worried about impaired driving.
Between the two extremes, respondents could also indicate that they were somewhat or moderately worried. Of all the respondents, almost 30% were either somewhat or moderately worried that legalized marijuana would lead to impaired driving.
Interactive Slider: Survey data suggests that a major concern among those who think marijuana poses a threat to safety is the worry that marijuana use will lead to impaired driving.
When it comes to safety, responses were split on whether or not survey-takers thought the legalization of cannabis will increase marijuana use among kids. A fifth of respondents indicated that they didn’t know if it would affect use among kids. Respondents seemed to have a better idea whether legalization would benefit the economy. Just over 70% of respondents said it would be an economic boost.
The survey also asked about marijuana-related expungement. Almost 70% of those surveyed said they were in favor of removing marijuana-related charges and arrests from people’s records. Of those in support, over 80% think there should be no criminal punishment for using marijuana and about 66% think expungement helps people get jobs. Among those that do not support expungement, almost 70% think that once someone gets a criminal record, they shouldn’t be able to change it.
Expungement opinions were somewhat split along political lines. Almost 90% of those self-aligning as Democratic were in favor of expungement, and just over 70% thought it would boost the economy. On the other hand, more than half — 59.21% — of Republicans were against expungement, and about 70% thought expungement wouldn’t benefit the economy.
Republicans and Democrats were also split on whether or not employers need to be able to see marijuana records when hiring. About 56% of Republicans thought it would be important to see marijuana charges when making hiring decisions. Only about 17% of Democrats thought it would be important to be able to see marijuana-related priors when hiring new employees.
Finally, Republicans were overwhelmingly in favor of having people with criminal records pay for their own expungement — only 6.58% of Republicans thought taxpayers should foot the bill. Democrats were split on the issue. Roughly 41% of Democrats said it should fall to the taxpayers. Just under 25% said those getting their records expunged should pay. And just over a third of Democrats said the cost should be shared by both taxpayers and those with records.
Regardless of the survey results, the New Mexico legislature has already spoken and the state is starting to implement the new laws. For expungement, the review and dismissal of sentences will be at no cost to incarcerated folks, implying that taxpayers will have to carry the estimated $500,000 cost to implement the new law.