Marijuana decriminalization will likely be the November ballot in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign, the Santa Fe City Clerk certified that enough valid signatures had been turned in for their initiative to qualify. It now goes to the city council for them to either directly approve it or allow it to instead be placed before the voters. The campaign is headed by the Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM.
If approved the measure would make possession of under an ounce of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia the lowest priority for the Santa Fe Police Department and punishable with simply a $25 fine under local law. Currently, a first offense for marijuana possession can result in a fine of up to $100 and up to 15 days in jail.
The prospects for the measure look good. Statewide polling last year found that 57 percent of New Mexico voters favored decriminalizing marijuana for adults and the city of Santa Fe tends to be more liberal than the state as a whole.
Since New Mexico law doesn’t allow statewide initiatives, reform campaigns can only work through local ballot measures or lobbying the state legislature to take action.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy
Photo by Ali Shojaee under Creative Commons license