April 3, 2015

Police using state pot penalties in Santa Fe

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Despite a city council vote to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Santa Fe, police officers are using the state statute and ignoring the city ordinance.

Marijuana budThis is from a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican on Wednesday.

But police stopped charging anyone under the city ordinance after Santa Fe’s municipal judge told The New Mexican in November that she was dismissing such citations in her court because she lacked jurisdiction over civil violations.

“They really did stop filing [in Municipal Court],” Judge Ann Yalman told a reporter Wednesday. “I think around the time you called was around the time that it stopped.”

The exact number isn’t revealed, but the New Mexican said that “dozens” of records were reviewed and they were all through state statute in Magistrate Court.

The Santa Fe city council voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana last year.

The city penalties would be a $25 ticket, a civil violation similar to a parking ticket. Instead, police are using the state statute which makes possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a petty misdemeanor with a fine of between $100 to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

A statewide decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana is unlikely any time in the near future, as Gov. Susana Martinez has long expressed her opposition to the idea. Martinez has even opposed the state’s medical marijuana law.

An effort to reduce penalties on possession of amounts up to eight ounces passed the House in 2013 but failed to reach the floor of the Senate.

This year, the Senate very narrowly passed decriminalization legislation for possession of up to one ounce, but it did not reach the House floor.

The Albuquerque city council voted to send the question of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana to the voters last year but mayor Richard Berry vetoed the effort.

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