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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.

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

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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: Marijuana Legalization Stalls In Senate Panel

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposal which would have allowed New Mexico voters to decide for themselves on marijuana legalization has stalled, at least for now, in the Senate Rules Committee.

The committee failed on Friday to debate the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow adults 21 and older to possess and use marijuana, reports the Associated Press.

There's still hope that the committee could debate the measure next week, according to its sponsor, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino.

If the plan is approved by the New Mexico Legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would go before the voters in the general election.

But it appears an uphill climb in the Legislature -- and even if it passes, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who opposes marijuana legalization, would almost certainly veto it.

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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