A little over a week ago the Albuquerque City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana by a 5-4 vote. Marijuana decriminalization has many benefits, and if you brush reefer madness claims aside, marijuana decriminalization has no drawbacks. That’s something that Albuquerque’s Mayor doesn’t seem to realize, and needs some nudging in the right direction. That’s why the Drug Policy Alliance created an e-mail template that generates an e-mail to Mayor Berry. Below is the language of the e-mail, which you can use to send a letter to Mayor Berry, and can be found at this link here:
Albuquerque is so close to ending arrest and jail time for marijuana possession and making it a low law enforcement priority. But Mayor Berry has to sign the legislation into law by Friday and he has already threatened to veto it. Please urge Mayor Berry to stop incarcerating people for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Sign Ordinance 15-60 and Resolution 15-243
As an Albuquerque resident, I am writing to urge you to support Resolution 15-243 as amended, to make marijuana enforcement a low priority, and Ordinance 15-60, which would decrease penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. This legislation would make one ounce or less of marijuana and possession of any drug paraphernalia a civil infraction with a fine of $25. There would be no more criminal convictions or jail time. Right now, a person can spend up to three months in jail for a marijuana possession offense.
Ordinance 15-60 is a common-sense way to save the city money while improving public safety. Our police deserve to have the resources to deal with the serious violent crimes that threaten our communities and families. But, having to expend scarce resources pursuing and arresting non-violent adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana that’s intended for personal use threatens our public’s safety. Passing Ordinance 15-60 will free up law enforcement resources that are better spent elsewhere. When our police officers are on duty they should have access to the resources they need in order to deal with serious violent crime, and keep our families safe.
As you are aware, the City already has a marijuana possession city ordinance with penalties less than state law. Under this new ordinance, Albuquerque Police would continue to have the discretion to cite under the city law or the state law but they would have the ability to give someone a $25 citation for marijuana possession. Making the penalty a fine and taking away the jail time will make things easier for police, not harder.
These arrests impose significant costs on individuals, families and communities, as well as on policy, prosecutors, courts and taxpayers generally. For all of these reasons I ask you for your vote to support Ordinance 15-60 and Resolution 15-243.