New Mexico Senate Narrowly Passes Decriminalization Bill

The New Mexico Senate voted Saturday to pass a bill that would ease penalties for adults found in the possession of small amounts of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. The bill now moves to the House.

Senate Bill 383, which passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 21-20, would make those found in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or any kind of drug paraphernalia subject to a $50 fine. The conviction would be classified as a penalty assessment, which is not a criminal conviction.

Furthermore, the bill would remove the possibility of jail time for those convicted of possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana. Current law in New Mexico considers possession of up to an ounce as a petty misdemeanor with the possibility of jail time. Possession of between one and eight ounces is considered a misdemeanor with the possibility of large fines or up to a year’s worth of jail time.

The New Mexico House passed similar legislation with bipartisan support in 2013. The bill eventually failed because the Senate did not vote on it before the year’s adjournment.

According to a 2013 Sanderhoff poll, 57% of New Mexico residents were then in favor of decriminalization. Last year, Sante Fe decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.


Photo Credit: Melanie Tata

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