Santa Fe, NM – This afternoon, making history, the New Mexico’s House of Representatives voted (37-33) to pass House Bill 465, reducing penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The final vote was bi-partisan with Republicans Representative Gentry and Representative McMillian voting in support. The bill now advances to the Senate. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to 4 ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to 8 ounces. Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over 1 ounce and up to 8 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to 1 year.
In a recent poll conducted by Research and Polling, Inc, and commissioned by Drug Policy Alliance and conducted by Research Polling Inc. found that 57% of New Mexican voters are in favor of reducing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use from a misdemeanor crime to a civil penalty with smaller fines and no jail time. In comparison, less than two-fifths (37%) of the voters say they oppose reducing the penalty for marijuana possession, while 6% are undecided.
“Our police deserve to have the resources to deal with the serious violent crimes that threaten our communities and families. But, having to expend scarce resources pursuing and arresting non-violent adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana that’s intended for personal use threatens our public’s safety,” stated 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, this is it.”
Around the country, similar change is afoot. There is growing momentum to reduce penalties for small amounts of marijuana, with California reducing penalties in 2010, Connecticut in 2011 and Rhode Island earlier this year. In the most recent November elections, both Colorado and Washington approved initiatives to legalize and regulate the recreational use and commercial production of marijuana.
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.