Voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico could be voting on a marijuana decriminalization measure this November. The Santa Fe City Clerk certified that enough signatures have been gathered and verified for the marijuana reform initiative. Now the initiative goes to the Santa Fe City Council where they can either adopt it outright, or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. Per Fire Dog Lake:
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.
I love to see local reform efforts. Obviously a statewide initiative would be better, but New Mexico does not have a statewide initiative process. If/when this local initiative passes, I hope to see other municipalities do the same thing. If enough local reform efforts succeed, it increases the chances of the New Mexico Legislature stepping up and reforming marijuana laws statewide. This is a strategy that every state should be pursuing if there isn’t a statewide initiative process, or if a statewide victory is hard to achieve. Once city at a time, one county at a time, one state at a time until marijuana laws are reformed nationwide.