By Steve Elliott
A New Mexico House committee last week voted in favor of a bill that would remove jail penalties for adults possessing small amounts of cannabis. The panel took the action on the same day that a new poll showed a majority of New Mexico voters favor reducing or even eliminating penalties against marijuana possession.
The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, on a 3-2 party line vote, gave a "do-pass" recommendation to HB 465, sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane (D-Albuquerque), reports Steve Terrell at The New Mexican. The committee's three Democrats voted for the bill, while the two Republicans voted against it.
The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee. But even if the measure clears the Legislature, conservative Governor Susana Martinez -- a former prosecutor -- has said she's against relaxing the laws on marijuana.
State and local governments waste too much money arresting and jailing people for marijuana possession, according to Rep. Kane. She said police should be able to investigate more serious crimes.
But Republican Rep. Jason Harper said he's worried that if the marijuana laws are loosened, there would be more people using cannabis, and driving under its influence.
Kane said the laws against driving while impaired would not be changed by her bill.