Lawmakers in the largest city of New Mexico are pushing once again to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Later this week, Rey Garduño and Isaac Benton of the Albuquerque City Council are expected to submit a proposal aimed at stripping away the criminal penalties associated with low-level pot offenses. The two lawmakers are suggesting a replacement code that would simply allow people busted for pot to pay a small fine rather than being sent to jail.
In addition, a secondary measure will be filed in conjunction with the decriminalization bill that would force the Albuquerque Police Department to make marijuana enforcement their lowest level of priority.
“Incarcerating people through this failed War on Drugs for possessing a small amount of marijuana is creating criminals where none exist,” Garduño, president of the Albuquerque city council, said in a statement.
The latest effort to reduce pot penalties in the city of Albuquerque is a comeback crack at putting to bed some unfinished business from last year. A similar measure received almost unanimous approval by the city council in 2014, but it was ultimately snuffed out by the veto power of Mayor Richard Berry.
However, it has since been revealed that 50 percent of the voting population in every district supports the elimination of penalties attached to minor pot offenses—a revelation that supporters hope will persuade Mayor Berry to get onboard with his constituency in 2015 instead of turning his back on the issue.
The decriminalization bill will be filed on Wednesday with the full council expected to debate the measure before the end of the month.
If passed, anyone caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would simply be issued a $25 fine instead of enduring a criminal conviction. As it stands, pot offenders in Albuquerque are still doing jail time for a substance that has been decriminalized just an hour north in Santa Fe and completely legalized in neighboring Colorado.
A number of insane reports have surfaced over the past few years that have driven home the need to castrate the drug war in New Mexico.
In 2013, law enforcement officers in Hidalgo County subjected an innocent David Eckert to a roadside anal probing and a series of savagely painful medical examinations due to a suspicion that he was holding weed inside his body.
Earlier this year, New Mexico’s Region II Narcotics Task Force in Farmington responded to Governor Susana Martinez’s abolishment of the state’s civil asset forfeiture program by suggesting that it would render them financially crippled to no longer capitalize on property seized in small time marijuana busts.
Fortunately, there is some momentum in the state legislature to reduce the penalties associated with marijuana across the state. Let’s hope that lawmakers came come together soon on a plan to make some significant progress on this issue in the coming months.