Last Update: February 24, 2015
Legislation introduced following overwhelming support for decriminalization
During the 2014 elections, voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties had the opportunity to vote on advisory questions asking whether their elected officials should support decriminalization. The response was an overwhelming YES! The questions won with 73% support in Santa Fe County and 59% in Bernalillo County.
While the results were non-binding and the law has not changed yet, lawmakers representing nearly 40% of the state’s population had a clear mandate from their constituents: To replace criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana with a civil fine. In January, Sen. Joseph Cervantes introduced legislation to do just that. SB 383 would reduce the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil penalty of $50. This commonsense policy will save the state time, money, and resources, while also improving public safety.
It’s time for the Land of Enchantment to join 19 other states and D.C. and stop arresting people for possessing marijuana. Please urge your legislators to support decriminalization.
Marijuana laws in New Mexico
New Mexico is one of 23 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. For information on New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, including information on qualifying conditions and how to become a patient, please visit the New Mexico Health Department’s information page.
For non-medical use, New Mexico’s marijuana laws are less draconian than those of most states. Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for non-medical purposes is punishable by a $50-100 fine and up to 15 days in jail. A second offense, or a conviction for possession of more than an ounce, can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison term of up to one year. However, 19 other states have removed the possibility of jail time, with four of them having legalized marijuana for adults and regulated it like alcohol. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino is again sponsoring a resolution to ask voters whether to end marijuana prohibition in New Mexico, replacing it with taxation and regulation. It has already been approved by the Senate Rules Committee! Please encourage your legislators to support regulating marijuana like alcohol.
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