Voters Overwhelmingly Approve End to Criminal Marijuana Penalties in New Mexico’s Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties

Press Release November 3, 2014
Media Contact

<p>Contact: Emily Kaltenbach (505) 920-5255 or Tony Newman (646) 335-5384</p>

ALBUQUERQUE – Today, New Mexicans took a historic vote on marijuana policy reform. Voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County have voiced overwhelming support for marijuana decriminalization.  Both the Santa Fe and Bernalillo County ballots asked voters whether they supported decriminalization of 1 ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level.

The passage of the advisory questions proves that voters in both counties want to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. While this does not yet change the current law, it is a vital step in ensuring elected officials know where New Mexicans stand on this issue. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.

“New Mexicans made history tonight by having the chance to cast a vote in favor of marijuana policy reform. We have made great strides over the last six months to ensure that New Mexicans understand the importance of decriminalizing marijuana statewide and we are very confident that this election has gotten us one step closer to that goal,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance in New Mexico. “We look forward to working with our local and statewide elected officials in bringing practical marijuana reform to New Mexico and are optimistic that the upcoming legislative session will be another step in the right direction."

The state’s first vote on marijuana policy was not merely local; more than 40% of state voters weighed in and a clear majority of those casting ballots sent the message that voters are ready to end criminal penalties for marijuana possession; put an end to using tax payers’ dollars that could otherwise be used by law enforcement on more pressing crime; put an end to policies that scar low-level marijuana users with a serious criminal history that can prevent them from obtaining scholarships, future job placement and a prosperous future; and, put an end to racially disproportionate marijuana arrests

To date, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.  As of today, over 120 million people, or 1/3 of the U.S. population, live in jurisdictions where marijuana has been essentially decriminalized – meaning there is no jail time associated with possession.

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

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