The Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council has passed an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of personal amounts of marijuana.
The ordinance, which was approved by the council in a close 5 to 4 vote, would make the possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana a simple $25 ticket. Currently possessing even a gram of marijuana can result in a misdemeanor and being put in jail for up to 15 days.
Councilmember Pat Davis, who filed the measure with Councilmember Isaac Benton, compared the ticket that would be issued for marijuana possession to a traffic ticket. He says it beats “having to check a box for the rest of your life”, referring to those filing applications (either for work, school, etc.) and being asked if they’ve ever been convicted of a drug-related crime. “At the end of the day, our police officers have more important things to do”, says Davis.
Before the proposal can become law, if must either be signed by Mayor Tim Keller (D), or be allowed by him to become law without his signature. A similar measure was vetoed in 2015, but at that point Keller wasn’t mayor; Richard Berry (R) was.
Albuquerque is by far the most populated city in New Mexico with roughly 560,000 residents, roughly a fourth of all residents in New Mexico (which has a population of slightly over 2 million).