Legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana, while reducing the penalties for larger amounts, has been passed by New Mexico’s full Senate.
Senate Bill 258 was passed with a strong 33 to 9 vote, sending to the House of Representatives for consideration. If passed in the House it would be sent to Governor Susana Martinez who is opposed to marijuana law reform; however, a 2/3rds vote in the legislature can override a potential veto.
Under the proposed law, possessing up to a half ounce of cannabis would become a maximum fine of $50, whereas it is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail.
The measure would also reduce the penalties for possessing up to 8 ounces of cannabis.
Below is a legislative summary of the bill:
Senate Bill 258 proposes to amend 30-31-23 NMSA 1978 to reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana. A person convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana would be issued a $50 penalty assessment; more than one ounce but not more than four ounces would be a petty misdemeanor; more than four ounces but not more than eight would be a misdemeanor; and more than eight ounces would be a fourth degree felony. The penalties for possession of synthetic cannabinoids would remain unchanged.
SB 258 would also amend 30-31-25.1 NMSA 1978 to provide that a person who is found guilty of violating subsection A (use or possession of drug paraphernalia) would be issued a $50 penalty assessment. Finally, the bill would create a new section of Chapter 31 NMSA 1978 for penalty assessments under the Criminal Code
Click here for the full text of Senate Bill 258.