Low-Level Marijuana Possession Offenses Now Decriminalized in New Mexico

SANTA FE, NM — As of today, the personal possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Mexico is no longer be classified as a criminal offense.

The new law reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — formerly punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine.

Lawmakers passed legislation in April to change the law.

Late last week, the Governor announced the formation of a new task-force to make policy recommendations with regard to 2020 legislation to legalize the adult use of cannabis.

“This is a win for consumers and activists continuing to fight and reform the state’s marijuana laws,” says NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “The criminalization of patients and consumers is a failed public policy, and there is finally a more sensible alternative in place. New Mexicans, a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown, have faced arbitrary discrimination and stigmatization for far too long.”

Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.

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