New Mexico Passes Decriminalization Bill
The New Mexican Senate made history over the weekend after voting 21-20 to pass Senate Bill 383. The new bill will reduce the penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Currently, New Mexico residents may end up with misdemeanor crimes that result in fines and jail time. Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance stated, “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." New Mexican's also feel it is time to change the way the state handles marijuana. A 2013 poll by Sanderoff showed 57% of New Mexicans in favor of decriminalization.
The new bill will make the possession of one ounce of marijuana or less and the possession of any drug paraphernalia a penalty assessment, which is not considered a criminal conviction, with a fine of $50. It will also remove the possibility of jail time for up to eight ounces of marijuana. New Mexico is attempting to join the other 18 states in the country that have decriminalized cannabis. Today, 1/3 of the country lives in an area where marijuana has been decriminalized - meaning no jail time.