Bill would make drug possession a misdemeanor, not a felony
February 15, 2019 07:37 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. - SB 408 faced its first vote at the Roundhouse Friday afternoon and passed in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.
Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, says it's time to stop locking up drug addicts. Taxpayers are footing the bill to keep people in prison when their only crime is drug possession.
"It's time we do something different," Candelaria said.
If SB 408 passes, New Mexico would join 19 other states that have either never made drug possession a felony, or that already changed it to a misdemeanor.
However, other drug-related crimes like trafficking and distribution would still be felonies.
"We need to finally start addressing substance abuse as an addiction, realizing it is a medical problem, it is a psychological problem," Candelaria said. "It's not something we treat with a felony conviction. It's something we treat with treatment."
Candelaria says his bill wouldn't only save taxpayers money, but it would help people addicted to drugs to get back on their feet by avoiding a life-changing felony conviction.
"You can't get a job, you're not available for public housing, you can't pursue higher education, and so what happens? You turn right back to the addiction that got you in prison in the first place. And the cycle repeats, and repeats, and repeats," Candelaria said.
Candelaria believes his bill will receive bipartisan support.
Updated: February 15, 2019 07:37 PM
Created: February 15, 2019 04:53 PM
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