New Mexico senator hopes to reduce penalties for having marijuana

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a lot of talk among lawmakers to legalize marijuana in New Mexico. But one senator has a less drastic idea that he hopes everyone can agree on.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes wants to reduce the penalties for having marijuana, including decriminalizing an ounce or less. Right now, people caught with an ounce or less of real or synthetic marijuana face a misdemeanor charge, up to $100 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

This bill would make it so that people with an ounce or less of only real marijuana would be fined just $50, no jail time and no blemish on their criminal record. The fine increases if it’s over one ounce of marijuana, and at that point you would face a misdemeanor charge. Eight or more ounces is a felony.

“This would take the small possessions out of the criminal justice system and that should free up, again, the resources of prosecutors, somebody like the governor’s background, to really deal with the violent offenders in our community who we’re not keeping up with,” Sen. Cervantes said.

Gov. Martinez has made it clear she won’t sign off on legalizing marijuana. KRQE News 13 wanted to know if she would support the idea of decriminalizing. Her spokesperson said, “as a career prosecutor, Gov. Martinez saw firsthand the damage drugs do to our families, our communities, she’s opposed to legalizing drugs, and that includes decriminalizing weed.”

Sen. Cervantes’ bill has already passed two committees. It’s headed back to the Senate floor for a full vote soon, where Sen. Cervantes plans to tweak it so that it will hopefully get more bipartisan support.

With this bill, penalties stay the same for people found with synthetic marijuana.

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