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New Mexico Senator Introduces Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession


new mexico marijuanaYesterday, New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana.  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. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bi-partisan support.

“I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders — dollars that might be better spent by hard-pressed law enforcement agencies on more pressing public safety needs,” 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.”

New Mexicans agree it is time to change the way we are policing marijuana in the state.  In November, voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County voiced overwhelming support for marijuana decriminalization; Bernalillo County voting 60% and Santa Fe County voting 73% in favor of statewide decriminalization.  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. A 2013 poll by Sanderoff showed 57% of New Mexicans in favor of decriminalization.

“Having to expend scarce police resources pursuing and arresting non-violent adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana threatens  our public’s safety,” stated Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Executive Director Neill Franklin. “When our police officers are on duty they should have access to the resources they need in order to deal with serious violent crime and to keep our communities safe.”

Limited resources like investigative time, crime lab analysts and jail and prison beds are needed for pedophiles, rapists and murderers.”

To date, eighteen 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.

The city of Santa Fe decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2014.

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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Johnny Green


  1. New Mexico has its hands full trying to control the inflow and use of Marijuana from 50 to 100 miles from the border of Colorado. How can they do this with the current restrictive laws in place, put everyone in jail, spend millions on enforcement and incarceration? I believe this governor will cooperate with law makers and sign a decriminalization bill into law this year. Then, there will be a referendum added to the next general election for voters to decide whether or not to legalize Marijuana, and when it overwhelmingly passes, New Mexico will begin selling and taxing Marijuana just like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

  2. Despite the bills being bi-partisan, and the two most populated counties getting majorities voting in favor of it, decriminalization will NOT happen on the watch of Susana Martinez. This governor will veto if it gets to her desk. Not on her watch, unfortunately for her and us. I believe that coming down on this side of history will hurt her future chances for offices she may aspire to, but she never asked me for my opinion. However, I’m not totally being a bummer, because I feel that every time this issue is thrust in the face of voters, anti-prohibition is a winner because it always brings more truths to light.

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