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New Mexico Marijuana Decrim Bill Passes House

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #775)
Drug War Issues

A bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults and depenalize the possession of up to a half pound of pot narrowly passed the New Mexico House Tuesday. The measure was approved on a vote of 37-33.

[Editor's Note: Decriminalization means the removal of the possibility for criminal charges. It can, and in this case does, make possession a civil offense akin to a traffic citation. Depenalization means the removal of the possibility of jail or prison time while possession remains a criminal offense.]

Introduced by Rep. Emily Kane (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 465 would decriminalize the possession of up to four ounces. Possession of between four and eight ounces would be a petty misdemeanor, but the maximum sentence would be a fine. Under current law, possession of up to an ounce is petty misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time, while possession of between one and eight ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

"Why on God's green Earth would we want to spend money throwing college kids in jail for having a few joints when we could be spending that money on early childhood education?" asked Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) during the debate. Criminalizing marijuana users is "institutional state stupidity," he added.

"Spending $5 million a year to arrest people with small amounts of marijuana is a waste of resources," said Rep. Kane. "We could put that money to better use."

"Why are we not legalizing it?" asked Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces), unwilling to stop with half-measures. McCamley laughed at the notion that marijuana users were a threat to public safety. Instead, he said, they typically "watch PBS, laugh, eat some Cheetos and go to bed."

Speaking in opposition to the bill was former police officer Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque), who said he had seen "the bad side" of marijuana. He said he had once stopped a car full of teen pot smokers who then attacked him with a screwdriver.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which has only a handful of days to act on it. Even if the bill were to pass the Senate, it still faces an uphill fight. Gov. Susana Martinez has said she would veto the bill if it reached her desk, and the margin of passage in the House isn't enough to override that veto.

"As a prosecutor and district attorney, the governor has seen firsthand how illegal drug use destroys lives, especially among our youth, and she opposes drug legalization or decriminalization efforts," her office said in an earlier statement re-released on Monday. "Proponents of these efforts often ignore the fact that the vast majority of people convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana are diverted to treatment programs and those who are sentenced to prison are individuals with long criminal records with convictions for things like assault, burglary, and other crimes."

If decriminalization is going to happen in New Mexico this year, it's going to require quick action in the Senate and the rapid building of veto-proof majorities in both houses.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


kickback (not verified)

I believe that the governor`s office said it right " As a Prosecutor and District Attorney....the Governor opposes legal/decriminalization ..." . Who would have ever thought that a Prosecutor would oppose Marijuana legalization or decriminalization ? Surely not . This is what voters get when they vote to elect Prosecutors as Governors . Or to the State Legislature or to Congress . Imagine a woodworker going out to protest against the cutting down of trees . People who oppress other people over the use of a plant are some seriously sick individuals .

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 11:19pm Permalink
Anonymous1234567 (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)

I like that, woodworker going to protest cutting down trees.

Sun, 11/03/2013 - 11:22am Permalink
DdC (not verified)

Follow CA or Bust'

Note. Compassionate Use Act not the MMJ Act

Raich v Gonzales granted the Federal government Commerce rights over selling or giving away more than reasonable amounts. States have authority over individuals growing reasonable amounts. Reasonable amounts have been established by the Feds IND program as 300 joints every 25 days or 100 plants per year. The 10th amendment was over ridden due to the Commerce clause. Its the IRS busting buyers clubs, not DEA. CA compassionate use act is the only state law permitting reasonable amounts for anyone for any reason. MMJ states, including CO and WA have limited themselves to a catch 22 impossible situation quantifying amounts that are impossible to grow individually. Forcing sales that are illegal under Fed jurisdiction. No one can grow an ounce or less. The UN follows the US concerning the drug war and its lies. Over 30 countries are growing Hemp as the US maintains its ugly prohibition of it. Anslinger set up the UN treaty for this very reason. In case future politicians buckle down to the will of the people. Enough! Remove cannabis as a schedule#1 narcotic. Including Hemp that should have never been put there in the first place. Stop incrementalizing. Cannabis is safe, end of story.

Ending & Pillage Incrementally
Tell Congress: We Need Jobs, Not Cuts, Got Hemp?

The Obama Admin's Anti-Marijuana Manifesto

One Drug Arrest Every 19 Seconds Oh Gilligan!


The majority of prohibitionists profit on the drug war,
and that is their only motive.

Shame on the Drug Worrier Profiteers
Trillion spent is a Trillion earned.
GOP Mogul Behind Drug Rehab 'Torture' Centers
Money Grubbing Dung Worriers
Forfeiture $quads
Got SqWAT?

"We have spent over a trillion dollars trying to eradicate the world's most beneficial plant off the face of the earth. Imagine what a better world this would be if that money had been spent on treatment, education and studying the medical benefits of marijuana."
-- Steve Hager - High Times Editor (1988 - 2003)

No, thats just what they'll be expecting us to do..
The prohibitionists are living in an Airplane movie..

Trillion spent is a Trillion earned.
Sorta depends on what side you stand
whether its spent as wasted taxes or received as profits.

Where are all of the Taxbaggers and Norquest?
Billions in Tax funds spent each year, nothing said. State rights over ruled by the Feds, nothing said. Now the US has to bow down to UN laws? Taking profits from businesses wanting to grow Hemp. The Neocons seem a tad cornfused on their own philosophy...


The U.N.’s complicity in international human rights abuses

A very powerful OpEd in the New York Times by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former President of Brazil) and Ruth Dreifuss (former President of Switzerland): An Ugly Truth in the War on Drugs

UN Report Slams Cruel Drug Treatment as "Torture" Mar 11 2013
Compulsory "treatment" for drug addiction in some parts of the world is "tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," according to report last month from the UN's special rapporteur on torture and other degrading treatments and punishments.

More Overreaching Arguments Against Marijuana Legalization
by DEA Chiefs and the UN
Making Sure Drugs Kill
You Can't Stop AIDS Without Ending the Drug War

Consider these numbers: Hundreds of thousands of people locked in detention centers and subject to violent punishments. Millions imprisoned. Hundreds hanged, shot or beheaded. Tens of thousands killed by government forces and non-state actors. Thousands beaten and abused to extract information, and abused in government or private “treatment” centers. Millions denied life-saving medicines. These are alarming figures, but campaigns to address them have been slow and drug control has received little attention from the mainstream human rights movement. [...]
New York Times: Ruth Dreifuss
Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
Why the Federal Government Will Not Reschedule Marijuana

U.N. told to find alternatives to war on drugs
The Drug War: Suppression Tactics Will Never Work

Victory? dwr
It’s often been noted that calling the drug war a failure is only true depending on what you consider to be the true goals of the drug war.

US Government Patents Medical Pot
U.S.Fort Schwag Mississippi

Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much


Wed, 03/13/2013 - 7:47am Permalink
Dennis Pielack (not verified)

The error of recognizing marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, and the wasteful use of money and malicious use of armed force by Government against marijuana users, necessitates civil disobedience.  Marijuana users are the living example of peaceful civil disobedience in this century: they continue to use marijuana in the face of an impotent Government's Dare Brainwash Programs to misrepresent marijuana as dangerous and harmful, with threats of fines, fees, forfeitures, and jail. Yet, the marijuana users continue to prevail, not willing to bend to the lie of the Government, or to be crushed into submission by law enforcement and the corrupt judges who interpret the law according to the prejudice of their political party. I admit, though marching worked for civil rights change, smoking marijuana is effective in demonstrating marijuana is not dangerous and harmful, but rather a blessing to a human being as incense, food, drug, building material, etc.etc.etc.

Wed, 03/13/2013 - 11:54pm Permalink
Robert Proctor (not verified)

"Speaking in opposition to the bill was former police officer Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque), who said he had seen "the bad side" of marijuana. He said he had once stopped a car full of teen pot smokers who then attacked him with a screwdriver."
People will attack people, including cops, with a screwdriver even if there is no marijuana present.  Repeal of prohibition won't eliminate screwdriver attacks.  It will free cops to focus on the screwdriver attackers and other violent criminals who, sometimes, smoke pot.

Gov. Susana Martinez' office said, "Proponents of these efforts often ignore the fact that the vast majority of people convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana are diverted to treatment programs and those who are sentenced to prison are individuals with long criminal records with convictions for things like assault, burglary, and other crimes."

Possession of pot doesn't warrant any government force.  Force into a treatment program, into reporting to a probation officer and having days of disruption are excessive.  There are too many people in prison for possession of marijuana.  It's time for HB465.  Decriminalize possession of marijuana.

Wed, 03/13/2013 - 11:59pm Permalink

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