Backers of a proposal that would make the maximum penalty for an ounce of marijuana a $25 fine in Albuquerque, New Mexico submitted signatures Monday hoping to get their proposal on the November ballot.
But even they admit it could be a long shot. Supporters turned in 16,000 signatures, hoping that 11,203 are actually valid. That seems like it would be a given, but verification of the first set of signatures showed that only 57 percent were valid.
“It’s going to be tight,” said Patrick Davis, a former police officer and current spokesman for ProgressNow New Mexico told the Albuquerque Journal. “but we’re cautiously optimistic.”
Monday was the deadline for the signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
Currently, possession of an ounce or less can get you up to 15 days in jail in Albuquerque along with a $50 fine. Passing the bill would lessen that as well as make pot enforcement a low priority for cops.
That is, if the cops care to listen.
According to Assistant Albuquerque City Attorney Greg Wheeler says that state law would pre-empt city law and that police would still have to enforce state laws. Under state law, the maximum penalty for pot possession of an ounce or less is $100 and 15 days in jail on first offense. Subsequent offenses could land you in jail for up to a year.
Davis says that the former officers he worked with would welcome the ability to use their discretion.
“All we’re doing is changing the options for the officer on the street and for the courts to give them a penalty that’s reasonable,” he told the Albuquerque Journal “This is not drug trafficking.”
Under city law, if the proposal collects enough signatures then the proposal goes to City Council which t has the ability to approve it without sending it to voters. If council doesn’t give their okay, it has to go to voters within three months.