emily kaltenbach

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

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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.

Who:
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

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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'

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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

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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

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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.

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