Voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo County yesterday approved measures that call for the decriminalization an ounce of weed or less at the state level yesterday. The move didn’t actually change any laws, though. It’s more of a proclamation from voters to elected officials.
Oh, and it doesn’t actually hold the lawmakers to any promises either. Thankfully, there’s enough momentum that New Mexicans can expect several decriminalization and legalization measures to come their way in 2015.
Even Progress Now, the group behind the initiatives, admits their measure didn’t do much but raise the issue in the public eye.
“It’s nonbinding, so it’s a little backwards,” Davis tells New Mexico Public Radio. “Usually what happens is we elect the legislators and they go right the laws, in this case the people are writing the laws and asking the legislators to put them in to practice. We have councilors in the city or Albuquerque who have promised that if voters said yes they would pass this ordinance and legislators in the house and the senate who said if voters said yes, they would sponsor this in the legislature.”
Thankfully, at least Fe City Council is already ahead of the curve. Earlier this year they passed a measure making marijuana possession of an ounce or less a civil infraction with punishment of a $25 fine.
Albuquerque City Councilman Rey Garduño told the Santa Fe Reporter that if the measure passed then he would introduce a decriminalization measure similar to the one in Santa Fe. Garduño actually has already introduced a decriminalization measure last year, but it was shot down by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. Garduño says the vote of the people should stop a veto in the future.
“I hope that [vote of the people]would be instructive to the mayor,” he said..
The measure also isn’t being ignored at the state level. House Majority Whip Antonio Maestas says he will push three bills in the 2015 session. One to prohibit the criminalization of pot, a second to legalize small amounts of pot and a third that would decriminalize pot at the state level. He tells the Reporter that he’ll see what sticks and run with it.
We can also expect to see another attempt from Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, whose marijuana legalization measure was killed in committee last session.