Hidden in the 1,000+ page Federal budget agreement reached on Sunday is language inserted by Democrats prohibiting the Trump administration from using any federal dollars to go after state-approved legal marijuana programs in New Mexico and 41 other states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico.
HB144 hit its only snag on Thursday, the Governor’s desk…
That’s right, Governor Martinez chose to veto a bill that received support from multiple committees, and cleared the floor of both the House and Senate.
Last week Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez introduced House Bill 89, the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, that would make marijuana available for recreational use in New Mexico. With the overwhelming evidence that states with legal pot can create new and lucrative revenue streams for public works, HB 89 is a win-win for New Mexico.
In another sign of the influence of progressives on the platform of the Democratic Party, DNC platform committee members this week adopted new planks in their platform calling for a reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana, as well as downgrading marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. As the Washington Post reports from Orlando, the 81-80 vote in favor was a surprise to many who expected the party to embrace a state-by-state legalization strategy. Back home in New Mexico, state Democrats already carried Marijuana policy reform in the state platform. “Marijuana should be decriminalized” says the Democratic Party of New Mexico platform. At the time it was adopted, that position was on the forefront of marijuana policy change nationwide.
[UPDATE: Debate on Sen. Ortiz y Pino’s proposal was pushed back today. No word yet on when (or if) it will be heard before the session ends. To stay up-to-date, be sure to join our email list by clicking here.]
Today the Senate Rules Committee will discuss a constitutional amendment to be added to the ballot in November that would decide the fate of legalizing marijuana in New Mexico. While not the only bill in this year’s legislative slate to tackle the issue, the constitutional amendment, if passed through both chambers, would allow New Mexican voters to decide. And in case you missed it, those voters show overwhelming support for the idea.
Over the weekend, Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s HB 466 – Medical Cannabis Research, Board & Fund – passed the House Health Committee with bipartisan support. Rep. Armstrong’s bill is critical for New Mexico’s medical and research professionals to further study the palliative effects of medical marijuana (along with its many other less-understood medical properties). The House Health Committee passed Rep. Armstrong’s bill on a 6-4 vote. It now moves to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. Here’s what Rep. Armstrong had to say about her bill clearing its first hurdle:
“It’s very encouraging to receive bipartisan support on this important bill…The Medical Cannabis Research, Board & Fund bill will create a board that would review proposed studies in New Mexico on medical cannabis.
Four weeks down. Four weeks to go. Look below for a recap of the top stories that came out of Santa Fe this week. Some good, some bad, and some really ugly. But before you get there, make sure to check out the information about the next Moral Monday rally happening on Feb.
A key Senate committee moved a marijuana legalization bill forward today, setting in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters. SJR2, sponsored by Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Abq.), proposes to “amend the state constitution by adding a new section to allow for possession and personal use of marijuana for persons 21 years of age and older” and permit the state to tax and regulate the sale of personal use amounts of marijuana. Voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties overwhelmingly approved ballot questions in 2014 asking if voters wanted elected leaders to support marijuana decriminalization for personal use. DecrimNM, the public campaign supporting those initiatives, was a joint campaign of the Drug Policy Alliance and ProgressNow New Mexico. After debating the issue, the Senate Rules Committee voted to move the bill forward.
A bright spot for progressives in the somewhat dim 2014 election was the successful passage of two marijuana decriminalization ballot questions in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties. The questions passed by wide margins and, because of the size of those counties, more than 40% of all New Mexico’s voters weighed in on marijuana decriminalization. Now that the legislative session is back in full swing, drug policy reform is back in the spotlight and one New Mexico State Senator is trying to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana statewide (a similar bill passed the House in 2013 with bi-partisan support). Senator Joseph Cervantes’ SB 383 would “[reduce] the penalty structure for possession of up to 4 ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to 8 ounces.” The Drug Policy Alliance came with this press release on the bill today:
Santa Fe, NM – Today, New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to 4 ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to 8 ounces. Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over 1 ounce and up to 8 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to 1 year.
The Drug Policy Alliance comes with this announcement today:
Today, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The U.S. Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy. The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law. For years, advocates have criticized the Department of Justice practice of accepting and processing seized assets such as cash, cars and other property from state and local law enforcement agencies through its Equitable Sharing Program, which retains 20 percent of the proceeds from the seizure received from a state or local law enforcement agency and returns 80 percent of the proceeds to the state or local law enforcement agency that initiated the seizure. The practice has enabled some state and local law enforcement to bypass state laws that prohibit police departments from keeping the proceeds from civil asset forfeiture or impose a stricter legal standard for seizing property.