Albuquerque City Council moves to decriminalize pot | KOB 4
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Albuquerque City Council moves to decriminalize pot

Jen French
April 02, 2018 10:10 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Pot has grown so much in popularity that there's now buzz among city councilors about bud. Now a joint may not land a person in jail in Albuquerque.

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On Monday night, City Councilors voted 5-4 in favor of Council Bill O-18-12, which decriminalizes possessing less than one ounce of marijuana. It now moves to Mayor Tim Keller’s desk.

However, Council Bill O-18-12 doesn't give people the green light to smoke whenever and wherever they please. The proposed ordinance would permit police officers to issue $25 civil citations to those caught smoking without a medical card.

"What we're doing is saying is 'this isn't a crime anymore,'" Councilor Pat Davis said. "This is no different in the city than a parking ticket or your weed violation in your front yard."

Council approves O-18-12; removes criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and paraphernalia and replaces it with a $25 fine

— Albuquerque City Council (@ABQCityCouncil) April 3, 2018

Davis said a civil citation is nowhere near as time-consuming as an arrest which requires an officer to fill out paperwork for a couple of hours and submit evidence to the crime lab. Davis said in 2016 APD made 177 marijuana-related arrests.

Councilor Isaac Benton added that the city's limited police staff simply doesn't have the time to respond to petty crimes.

"Clearly our police department does not need to be preoccupying themselves with running down people with a small amount of marijuana in the city," Benton said.

In response to O-18-12, Mayor Tim Keller’s spokesperson Alicia Manzano sent KOB the following statement. 

"We're focused on best prioritizing police resources for public safety that may include initiatives to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana," she said. "We will look for guidance from our police department on this and the Mayor will make an informed decision about the details of the bill when it reaches his desk."

The council also approved improving a school crosswalk where a student lost her life. Justine Almunioa, 12, was killed outside of Cleveland Middle School crossing Louisiana near Montgomery.

The council's decision mandates new safety features. It also creates a task force to study improvements at other school crossings in Albuquerque.

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Jen French

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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