New Mexico Senate Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis
New Mexico’s full Senate has passed Senate Bill 383, a proposal to decriminalize cannabis possession. The vote was 21 to 20.
If approved into law, the proposed legislation would make the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, and the possession of any drug paraphernalia, a penalty with a fine of $50 rather than an arrestable misdemeanor as it currently stands. The measure would also takes away the potential for jail time for the possession of up to half a pound (eight ounces).
Under current New Mexico law, possession of up to eight ounces comes with a potential jail sentence of up to a year.
“I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders — dollars that might be better spent by hard-pressed law enforcement agencies on more pressing public safety needs. Even more troubling is that young people and people of color are disproportionally arrested for marijuana in our state.” says Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “If ever there was a bill that advanced the smart on crime agenda and supported our New Mexican families, this is it.”
Similar legislation was approved by New Mexico’s House – where Senate Bill 383 has been sent – with wide bipartisan support; the bill eventually stalled in the Senate.