Albuquerque, N.M. Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

Press Release April 12, 2018
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Albuquerque, NM – Today, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed into law an ordinance removing criminal sanctions pertaining to possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from the city’s municipal codes. The new city ordinance makes one ounce or less of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia a civil infraction with a fine of $25. A civil infraction is not considered a criminal conviction. The ordinance also takes away the potential for jail time. Currently, a person can spend more than two weeks in jail for a first offense and 90 days for a subsequent offense. Albuquerque becomes the second city in New Mexico to remove criminal penalties for possessing small amount of marijuana.  Santa Fe decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2014. In 2015, former Councilor Garduño and Councilor Benton sponsored a similar measure that passed the council 5-4 on a party line vote. However, it was vetoed by Mayor Berry.

“Albuquerque is sending a strong message that we should not be arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “I am very confident that decriminalizing marijuana possession in Albuquerque will take us one step closer to reforming marijuana laws at a state level.  As we work towards making possession of marijuana for personal use legal in a taxed and regulated system in New Mexico, nobody should be going for jail for what is legal for adults just a few hundred miles north in Colorado.”

Albuquerque residents voiced their support at the ballot box for decriminalizing marijuana. In November on 2014, voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County voiced overwhelming support for marijuana decriminalization – Bernalillo County voted 60 percent and Santa Fe County voted 73 percent in favor of statewide decriminalization. More than 50 percent of Albuquerque voters in all nine city council districts voted in favor of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana at a state level.

“It is time that cities resist Jeff Sessions’ war on marijuana and stand up to the Trump administration,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Cities know best the contours of their own problems – and are therefore best positioned to craft meaningful solutions to those problems. Do we want to be the kind of society that arrests and jails adults – who are disproportionately people of color and low-income – for possessing a substance that’s unequivocally been shown to be far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco?”

More than one-third of the U.S. population – live in jurisdictions where marijuana has been essentially decriminalized, meaning there is no jail time associated with possession.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

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