Effort underway to reduce marijuana penalties in ABQ, SF

Created: 05/27/2014 5:57 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Voters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe may soon get to decide whether those two cities should reduce penalties for marijuana possession and paraphernalia.

Organizers filed legal paperwork in both cities to launch petition drives. The idea is to establish a simple fine: $25 for an adult possessing less than an ounce.

"There's momentum around the country around marijuana reform, and New Mexicans have spoken. Last year we did a poll that shows that close to 60 percent of New Mexicans really believe in reducing penalties," petition organizer Emily Kaltenbach said.

Right now the fines are up to $100 in Santa Fe and $50 in Albuquerque, and you could do two weeks in jail in both towns.  If the petition drives succeed, voters will get to decide.

"It would work. The momentum is there. For them to decriminalize it and sell it, I mean, think about it.  Look at what Colorado is doing. It's amazing, the tax money they are bringing in.  It would probably be a good move.  But I'm just one person," Yvonne Martinez-Denko said.

"I think Santa Fe city, the county, the whole state, in fact the whole country should decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana. I think if you can buy alcohol legally, you should be able to buy marijuana legally," Spider Kedelsky said.

Organizers point out that this penalty reduction idea is far less radical than the pot legalization in Colorado and Washington.  It just affects city ordinances in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  State law would not be affected. 

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