As New Mexico's frenetic legislative session
winds toward its end on Saturday, Gov. Gary Johnson's package of reform
bills is meeting with some, although not complete, success. The fight
over drug reform, meanwhile, is tearing the state Republican Party apart
as New Mexico's leading Republicans attack the state party chairman for
supporting Johnson's proposals.
The latest on the status of the reform
It is worth noting that at this late date,
none of Johnson's package of bills is definitively dead, which is an indication
of the rapid shift toward new approaches to drug policy in New Mexico and
Medical Marijuana -- passed both the House
and the Senate in slightly differing versions. The only major difference
is the "sunset clause" in the House version, which would require the legislature
to re-approve the law after four years. Because the House bill barely
passed, it is likely that the Senate will vote to adopt the House bill
instead of trying to get the House to pass the Senate bill. The margin
of victory in the Senate was 29-12.
The measure's proponents overcame hysterical
opposition from the likes of Rep. Ron Godbey (R-Cedar Crest), who at one
point asked, "Does this mean a patient using marijuana can go out and rape
and pillage?" (The answer was "no.")
Voting rights reform -- Bills to restore the
voting rights of felons upon completion of their sentences passed both
houses and await Gov. Johnson's signature.
Asset forfeiture reform -- Moved through House
committees, a floor vote is imminent.
Overdose prevention -- Passed in the Senate
and House with slight differences. The House will do a voice vote
on the Senate version today.
Marijuana decriminalization -- Still alive,
as legislators look for compromise language with Gov. Johnson.
Sentencing reforms -- The habitual offender
bill passed the House and will be voted on by the Senate today. The
first and second time offender bill, under which such persons would receive
probation and possible treatment instead of prison, also remains alive.
The battle over drug reform in New Mexico
is also exposing fault lines within the state Republican Party, as social
conservatives face off against more libertarian-leaning party members.
All three New Mexico Republicans in Congress
-- Sen. Pete Domenici, Congressman Joe Skeen, and Congresswoman Heather
Wilson -- have harshly attacked state Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl
for his support of Johnson's package.
Domenici called for Dendahl to resign,
and in a statement released last week, the Republican congressmembers said,
"Mr. Dendahl has every right as a private citizen to express any view he
wishes, no matter how inimical to the principles of the party he represents.
However, expressing views that directly violate the wishes of the vast
majority of those who elected him chairman and who have labored to have
a president who opposes legalization of marijuana, reveals that John has
simply left the Republican Party on this critical issue of moral values."
But a poll released last month suggests
that Dendahl is more attuned to New Mexico voters than his critics.
A survey by the Albuquerque firm Research & Polling, found that 60%
of Republicans, 66% of Democrats, and 75% of independents supported marijuana
decriminalization. New Mexicans approved of drug treatment over prison
for first and second-time offenders by similar margins.
-- END --
Issue #177, 3/16/01
Dedication: Patrick Dorismond | Students Helping Students, HEA Update | Colombian Governors Come to Washington to Denounce Plan Colombia, DRCNet Interviews Tolima Governor Jaramillo | US District Court Overturns Mandatory Drug Tests in Texas School, Lockney Policy Was Nation's Broadest | Drug Reform Battle Heats Up in New York: Pataki Package Would Increase Marijuana Penalties, Democrats Offer Alternative Bills, Activists Don't Like Either Version | New Mexico Update: Ups and Downs for Johnson's Reform Package, State GOP in an Uproar | In Another Step on Path to Cannabis Decrim, Swiss Government Submits Proposed Law to Parliament | Hemispheric Parliamentarians Reject Debate on Drug Legalization | Uruguayan Leader Takes Legalization Views Online, Recommends Traffic | Narco News: Mexican Federal Police Chief Calls for Legalization, Bush Adds Another Half Billion to Colombia Fire | San Francisco Conference Looks at Women and the Drug War | Job Listing: Access Works! in Minneapolis | The Reformer's Calendar | Editorial: The Rule of Law
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