At the New Mexico state level, simple marijuana possession is still a crime (misdemeanor), punishable by a fine of up to $100, up to 15 days in jail, and the offense stays on the offenders record. The vote in August made simple marijuana possession (up to one ounce) a civil infraction, punishable by a $25 fine, and nothing else. Apparently some police officers in Santa Fe don’t like the move, and instead of enforcing city marijuana ordinances like they should be doing, they are instead arresting people and citing state law. Per The Cannabist:
Dozens of police reports show that Santa Fe officers since November have been filing cases only under state statute in Magistrate Court. Those cases involve possession of an ounce or less of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia.
Since Nov. 5, when the last verifiable citation was issued under the city ordinance, there have been more than 70 charges under the state statute.
After the Santa Fe council voted last summer to adopt the new ordinance, officers were given discretion to issue citations under either municipal or state law.
“I understand that it’s an option,” City Councilor Joseph Maestas told the Albuquerque Journal. “But it’s troubling to me that policy hasn’t been fully accepted to the degree of full implementation.”
To be fair, officers have the discretion to cite state law instead of city ordinances. However, it takes a real jerk of a human (and a waster of public money) to ruin someone’s life when they don’t have to. What benefit is there to arresting someone for a plant that is safer than alcohol and tobacco when you don’t have to? What benefit is there to ruining someone’s life by giving them the ‘marijuana scarlet letter?’ I don’t know how these cops sleep at night. Clearly there is still work to be done in New Mexico, where I’m hopeful that full marijuana legalization will become a reality sooner than later.