emily kaltenbach

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New Mexico: Support For Taxing, Regulating Marijuana Reaches New High


New polling data about New Mexico's voters' attitudes towards changes in marijuana policy will be released on Thursday during a press event at the State Capitol. The new data reflects the state’s shifting outlook on marijuana policy reform. Results show the majority of New Mexicans polled are in favor of reforming our current marijuana laws, according to activists.

This event will include remarks from State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino who has recently introduced Senate Joint Resolution 5 which proposes an amendment to New Mexico’s Constitution allowing for the possession and use of marijuana and hemp by adults. It also requires that revenues generated from sales and taxation be used for New Mexico’s public education needs, the Medicaid program or drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Brian Sanderoff, from Research and Polling, Inc., will present the January, 2016 polling results.

Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino
Brian Sanderoff, Research and Polling, Inc.
Emily Kaltenbach, State Director, Drug Policy Alliance
What: Polling data release + press availability with legislators and drug policy reform advocates

Where: Room 326, State Capitol Bldg.

When: Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 10 a.m.

New Mexico: Albuquerque City Council Votes 5-4 To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession


Companion Resolution, Making Marijuana a Low Law Enforcement Priority Also Passes

Albuquerque city council members Monday night voted 5-4 on party lines in favor of Ordinance 15-60 to remove criminal sanctions pertaining to possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from the city’s municipal codes and replace them with a $25 fine. The measure now heads to the Mayor who has the authority to veto the legislation.

A companion resolution, also voted on Monday night, that would make marijuana possession violations a low priority for the Albuquerque Police Department, passed 6-3 with Republican Councilor Brad Winter joining the Democrats in support.

"We are criminalizing people not only for the use [of marijuana], but for life," said Rey Garduño, president of the City Council and the legislation co-sponsor, in his opening remarks. "We shouldn't curtail them for such a minor infraction."

Last fall, Garduño sponsored a similar measure that also passed the council 5-4 on a party line vote. However, it was vetoed by Mayor Richard J. Berry.

Since then, Albuquerque residents voiced their support at the ballot box for decriminalizing marijuana. In November, voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County voiced overwhelming support for marijuana decriminalization. Bernalillo County voted 60 percent and Santa Fe County voted 73 percent in favor of statewide decriminalization. More than 50 percent of Albuquerque voters in all nine city council districts voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

New Mexico: Governor Signs Bill Outlawing Civil Asset Forfeiture, AKA 'Policing For Profit'


New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez on Friday signed HB 560 into law, ending the practice of civil asset forfeiture in New Mexico. Civil asset forfeiture, also known as “policing for profit,” allows law enforcement officers to seize personal property without ever even charging — much less convicting — a person with a crime.

Property seized through this process often finds its way into the department’s own coffers. HB 560, introduced by NM Rep. Zachary Cook and passed unanimously in the Legislature, replaces civil asset forfeiture with criminal forfeiture, which requires a conviction of a person as a prerequisite to losing property tied to a crime.

The new law means that New Mexico now has the strongest protections against wrongful asset seizures in the country.

“This is a good day for the Bill of Rights,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “For years police could seize people’s cash, cars, and houses without even accusing anyone of a crime. Today, we have ended this unfair practice in New Mexico and replaced it with a model that is just and constitutional.”

“With this law, New Mexico leads the nation in protecting the property rights of innocent Americans,” said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation. “Convicted criminals will still see the fruits of their crime confiscated by the state, but innocent New Mexicans can now rest easy knowing that their property will never be seized by police without proper due process.”

Washington: Seattle's New Approach To Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction In Recidivism


LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members

Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany

According to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the War On Drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to produce a dramatic drop in recidivism.

In 2011, Seattle launched "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion" (LEAD), a bold new harm reduction-oriented approach to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes and break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and homelessness. Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretion to divert individuals for certain criminal offenses (including low-level drug sales) to a case manager and a comprehensive network of services, instead of booking them to jail and initiating the standard criminal justice process.

LEAD established a unique collaboration between multiple stakeholders who all work together to find new ways to solve old problems. Stakeholders include police, district attorneys, mental health and drug treatment providers, housing providers and other service agencies, the business community, public defenders, elected officials, and community leaders.

New Mexico: State Senate Passes Historic Marijuana Decriminalization Bill


In a Bi-partisan Vote the New Mexico’s State Senate Passes Historic Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

SB 383 Reduces Penalties for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia

Over the weekend, making history, the New Mexico’s State Senate voted (21-20) to pass Senate Bill 383, reducing penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The final vote was bi-partisan with Republican Senator Lisa A. Torraco and Republican Senator John C. Ryan voting in support. Five of 19 Democrats (Munoz, Padilla, Clemente Sanchez, Papen, and Smith) voted against the bill . The bill now advances to the House.

The proposed legislation makes one ounce or less of marijuana and possession of any drug paraphernalia a penalty assessment with a fine of $50; a penalty assessment is not considered a criminal conviction. The bill also takes 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 a year. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bipartisan support.

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Resolution Passes Out Of Senate Rules Committee


Public Opinion and Wasted Tax Dollars Push Legislator to Fix Broken Marijuana Policies

For the first time in history, a legislative committee on Thursday voted in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico. On a vote of 5-4, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s (D-12-Bernalillo) Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2) passed the Senate Rules Committee.

SJR2 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed.

"It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of people, gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste," Kaltenbach said. "Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

New Mexico: State Senator Introduces Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession


New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, on Friday 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 four ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to eight ounces.

Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over one ounce and up to eight ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to one year. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bipartisan 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,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “If ever there was a bill that advanced the smart on crime agenda, this is it.”

New Mexico: Credit Unions To Close Medical Marijuana Licensed Producer Bank Accounts


Move May Force Producers to Move to a Cash-only Payment System

Eight months after the federal Department of Justice and Treasury Department announced new guidelines allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses, some of the credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to almost half of the State’s licensed medical marijuana producers saying they will no longer accept their business and proceeded with closing their accounts.

The credit unions claim that they are unable to comply with federal guidelines for servicing the accounts. This move leaves producers in the lurch, with either having to operate on a cash-only basis or scramble to find another financial institution willing to take their business.

In February, the Obama Administration announced new guidelines that will allow banks to legally provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use; two of those states (Colorado and Washington) recently legalized marijuana like alcohol.

New Mexico: Santa Fe City Council Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Santa Fe City Council, in a surprise move on Wednesday night, decriminalized marijuana possession. The city of about 70,000 residents became the first in New Mexico to decriminalize pot.

The resolution, passed on a 5-4 vote, changes the city's penalties for cannabis possession from a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a $50-$100 fine and up to 15 days in jail, to a civil infraction and a $25 fine, reports Joey Peters at the Santa Fe Reporter.

It also instructs Santa Fe's police force to treat possession of small amounts of marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority. The decrim measure applies to possession cases involving one ounce or less, and also decriminalizes marijuana paraphernalia.

The vote came after pressure from Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM to get decriminalization on the November general election ballot.

"Obviously from a policy perspective, this is incredible," said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico director of Drug Policy Action, affiliated with Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico. "The people have won tonight no matter what."

Kaltenbach added, though, that the Reducing Marijuana Penalties initiative was formed with the aim of getting decrim on the ballot so that voters could have a say on the issue. Petitioners submitted more than 11,000 signatures from residents to qualify for November's ballot.

New Mexico: Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative Officially Certified In Santa Fe


First Time in New Mexico History People will Vote on Marijuana Reform

The Santa Fe City Clerk on Monday announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a vote on reducing marijuana penalties.

The Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign, headed by Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM, submitted close to 11,000 signatures in 52 days, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative now goes before the City Council where the governing body has two options, vote for the ordinance change outright or send the initiative to the people for a vote.

Not only will this be the first time in history that New Mexico's voters will cast their ballots on reforming marijuana laws, it is the first time that the people of Santa Fe brought forth an issue via the City’s citizen initiative process. The Santa Fe city charter permits voters to petition their government for changes to city ordinances, including those relating to marijuana.

New Mexico: Board Recommends Allowing Medical Marijuana For Alzheimer’s Disease


If Approved by the Dept. of Health, New Mexico Would Join 13 Other States Where Patients Can Access Medical Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Disease

The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to add neurodegenerative dementia including Alzheimer’s disease to the list of medical conditions eligible for the Medical Cannabis Program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision.

Medical cannabis is currently available to Alzheimer’s patients in 13 of the states that authorize its use.

The Drug Policy Alliance filed the petition on behalf of all New Mexicans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease was specifically petitioned for, the board chose to expand their recommendation to include all types of neurodegenerative dementia.

"The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board's action not only recognizes the debilitating impact neurodegenerative diseases have on New Mexico's increasing elderly population, it recognizes that medical cannabis should be part of a larger comprehensive approach to support our elders' quality of life," stated Emily Kaltenbach, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. "New Mexico has a long history of respecting our elders and the Board’s compassionate recommendation to add these conditions is clearly rooted in the great values of our state.”

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Resolution Does Not Pass Senate Rules Committee


Vigorous Debate Showed Bipartisan Interest for Marijuana Reform But Failed to Clear Committee As a Result of Lingering Political Fears and Constitutional Arguments

On a tie vote of 5 to 5, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s (D-12-Bernalillo) Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR10) on Tuesday failed to pass the Senate Rules Committee. SJR10 would have allowed for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“We were encouraged by the thoughtful and vigorous debate by members from both sides of the aisle where both Republicans and Democrats voiced support for marijuana reform. Although they acknowledged the racially disparate impact that New Mexico’s current marijuana laws have on our communities of color and our youth, they chose not to give their constituents the opportunity to vote on this issue,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Sadly, it also appears they are far too concerned that it would be a detriment on the campaign trail.”

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Resolution Introduced In State Senate


Public Opinion and Wasted Tax Dollars Push Legislator to Fix Broken Marijuana Policies

Colorado, Washington, and Now Uruguay Offer Sensible Models and Precedent for Reform

New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino (D-12-Bernalillo) on Friday pre-filed Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR 10) proposing to amend the New Mexico’s constitution to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. SJR 10 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

If SJR10 passes both the House and the Senate, the amendment will be placed on the November 2014 ballot for the voters to decide.

"New Mexico's voters should be given the opportunity to decide on this issue,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino. "Other states' experience can help us formulate an approach that will end the problems created by prohibition while protecting juveniles.

"Because of the disparate impact the failed 'war on drugs' has had on minorities and the poor, we are ruining lives, wasting money and missing economic development opportunities," Sen. Ortiz y Pino said.

Colorado made world history on January 1 when commercial sales of marijuana became legal for adults. New Year’s Day marked full implementation of Amendment 64, Colorado’s successful 2012 ballot initiative. In December, Uruguay became the first nation to adopt a modern marijuana legalization law.

New Mexico: Medical Marijuana Access For PTSD Patients Is Protected

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After months of deliberation, the New Mexico Department of Health on Tuesday upheld a recommendation by the Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board and announced that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will remain a qualifying condition for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.

Patients’ access to medical marijuana under state law was threatened by a request to withdraw PTSD as a qualifying condition for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program after Dr. William Ulwelling, a retired psychiatrist in New Mexico, submitted a formal request to the state's Department of Health requesting PTSD be removed from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.

During her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) vowed to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law.

“Although today patients suffering from PTSD can breathe a sigh of relief, we will not rest until the Martinez Administration continues to demonstrate, as they did yesterday, that they will not turn their backs on all medical marijuana patients, including veterans, patients with disabilities, and victims of trauma and violent crime,” said Emily Kaltenbach, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office.

New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

Photo - New Mexico: Senate Committee Approves Study of Taxing and Regulating MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Mexico state Senator Ortiz y Pino's Senate Memorial 80, requesting the state Economic Development Department to study the budgetary implications of taxing and regulating marijuana in the state, on Wednesday passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on a 6-1 bipartisan vote.

The memorial bill will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee before being heard by the entire Senate.

"Legislators on both sides of the asile want to know how taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico will improve our economic success as a state," said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Many of the best ideas defy political labels."

"As marijuana reform becomes a mainstream position, political candidates and elected officials are finding it less and less of a political third rail," Kaltenbach said.

A new poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico's registered voters -- 52 percent -- say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, taxing and regulating it in a way similar to alcohol. Forty percent were opposed.

A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last year suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market.

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