|N.M. State Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino.|
A bill that would require the state of New Mexico to conduct an economic study on legalizing and regulating marijuana passed out of sub committee yesterday and now moves on to the senate for approval.
We first told you about Senate Memorial 80, sponsored by State Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino last month, when a number of New Mexico marijuana-related bills were announced last month. The bill passed through with a bipartisan 6-1 majority.
“Legislators on both sides of the aisle want to know how taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico will improve our economic success as a state,” said Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico director Emily Kaltenbach in a press release. “Many of the best ideas defy political labels.”
New Mexico seems to have a growing interest in regulating cannabis. According to a Drug Policy Alliance poll we reported on last month, 57 percent of polled voters said that penalties and jail time need to be reduced. According to the DPA, about one-third of all drug arrest in the state are for marijuana possession which costs about $5 million for taxpayers each year.
A bill to decriminalize cannabis is currently before the state house. If passed, House Bill 465 would drop possession of an ounce or less to a civil penalty with a maximum fine of $50. Between one and four ounces would also become a civil penalty, with a maximum fine of $100.
Currently the penalty for possession of an ounce or less is 15 days in jail and a $100 fine. Possession of over an ounce but under eight ounces is a misdemeanor as well, with up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. More than eight ounces is a felony, with up a year-and-a-half in jail. Cultivation of any amount is a felony, with up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine