Press Conference Tuesday: New Mexico Senator To Introduce Legislation Making Drug Possession a Misdemeanor

Press Release January 28, 2019
Media Contact

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

On Tuesday, January 29th, Senator Jacob Candelaria (D) will introduce legislation that would reduce drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Currently, in New Mexico, any amount of an illegal drug (other than marijuana) is considered a felony. If the measure is passed and signed by the Governor, New Mexico will join 19 states that have either never made possession a felony or have reformed their state laws making possession a misdemeanor. In the past five years, states like Oklahoma, Utah, Connecticut, Alaska, Oregon and California have all reclassified drug possession to a misdemeanor. Reclassified, a 2018 report by the Urban Institute, shares the harm caused by felony convictions and the importance of targeting limited correctional resources more efficiently.

“Our state, our communities and our families are wrestling with addiction, overdose, and costly incarceration,”  said Senator Jacob Candelaria .”But our current approach to break the cycle of addiction and arrest is not working nor making our communities safer. It is time to invest in better options and stop the revolving door. My bill to reclassify drug possession felonies to misdemeanors is a historic and significant shift toward smarter justice by offering a strong model for safely and successfully reducing unnecessary incarceration and removing the devastating consequences of a criminal record.”

“Reducing drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor would be a game changer for New Mexico families,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Not only would we see reductions in incarceration  and wasteful government spending, but a meaningful reduction in the severe collateral consequences people experience after they’re arrested for drug possession. We know that punishment for a drug law violation is not only meted out by the criminal justice system, it is also perpetuated by policies denying voting rights, employment, immigration status, child custody, business loans, licensing, student aid, public housing and other public assistance to people with criminal convictions.”

The bill is endorsed by: ALCU-NM, Best Chance, Drug Policy Alliance, El Centro, EQNM, Law Offices of the Public Defender, National Association of Social Workers, NM Chapter, NM Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, NM Public Health Association, NM Voices for Children, Street Safe New Mexico and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.
A press conference releasing the details of the bill will be Tuesday, January 29, at the State Capitol ******.

What: Reclassifying drug possession in New Mexico
Where: State Capitol Building, Room 311
When: Tuesday, January 29, 1:00 pm
•    Senator Jacob Candelaria
•    Representative Andrea Romero
•    Emily Kaltenbach, Drug Policy Alliance
•    Bennett Bauer, NM’s Chief Public Defender
•    Steve Allen, ALCU-NM
•    Persons impacted



A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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