The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) testified on Wednesday November 28th, 2012 to the Interim Legislative Courts about the significance of diminishing penalties for small amounts of cannabis possession by adults. The legislation that the DPA is proposing, if successful, would allow adults of legal age to possess an ounce of cannabis without receiving a fine or penalty and the possession of two to eight ounces would be reduced from a misdemeanor to a mere fine.
Dan Abrahamson, the Director of Legal Affairs for Drug Policy Alliance, had this to say in reference to the gravity of the current cannabis possession laws:
“Although misdemeanors seem relatively insignificant they are anything but minor,” Abrahamson said, “A misdemeanor can ruin a person’s job prospects, affect child custody, access to health care, and have hefty fines that low-income families in New Mexico cannot afford to pay.”
As it is across the nation, the need for the decriminalization of cannabis in New Mexico is imperative. It is a frequent misapprehension that law enforcement officials in the state refrain from arresting individuals for mere pot possession. The Marijuana Arrest Research Program’s analysis of the Uniform Crime Reporting data tells a different tale. The analysis reveals that in 2010 there were 3,277 marijuana possession arrests for a rate of 159 per 100,000. The New Mexico State Director of Drug Policy Alliance, Emily Kaltenbach, had this to say in regards to the importance of the projected legislation:
“The proposal to reduce adult marijuana possession penalties is a step in the right direction by allowing police to issue a ticket rather than arrest someone for possessing tiny amounts of marijuana,” and she goes on to say, “This legislation is pragmatic – we are confident that if signed into law it will improve lives, save taxpayer’s dollars and significantly reduce the burden on law enforcement resources.”
We can bring an end to this ignorance one step at a time and one state at a time. Minor amendments of possession laws aid in changing the mindset of the opposition and it prevents individuals from being incarcerated for mere pot possession. You can help erase the negative stigma that shrouds the cannabis community by educating yourself and others about the science of dank. Knowledge is power, but only when it’s applied.
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