New Mexico is seeing a lot of local marijuana reform victories lately. Recently the Santa Fe City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana, after activists gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a vote. Albuquerque was about to do the same thing, until marijuana hating mayor Richard Berry vetoed it. Mayor Berry used the 'it is illegal federally argument' when vetoing the measure. Apparently Mayor Berry wasn't paying attention during civics class when they were explaining the difference between cities, counties, states, and the federal government. Santa Fe County Commissioners have approved a marijuana decriminalization measure for the upcoming election. Per the Santa Fe Reporter:
This afternoon, the Santa Fe County Commission voted unanimously to put an advisory question on the November general election ballot asking voters' opinions on decriminalizing marijuana countywide. Yesterday, the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to put a similar question on its ballot.
The questions, which are legally non-binding to both counties, will simply poll residents about whether they want local elected officials to reduce penalties for those who get caught in possession of one ounce of marijuana or less. It's the latest step in a summer-long push to get voters in Santa Fe and Albuquerque to weigh in on the issue this November.
Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics said she introduced the advisory question after receiving a "direct request" to do so by some of the ballot initiative's organizers who want to get the question to a vote. Commissioner Kathy Holian asked to be listed as a cosponsor at the meeting.
Even though the question is non-binding, it is still very significant. If it passes, it will put the pressure on elected officials to do the right thing and decriminalize marijuana throughout Santa Fe County. If you live there, contact your elected officials early and often. This is a great example of local activism, which is something I wish more municipalities would do.