SB 383 would have replaced criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana with a $50 civil fine. It also would have removed the possibility of jail time for possession of up to eight ounces. Although SB 383 passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote, the House did not take it up. It is disappointing that the New Mexico House chose not to review a bill that would have reduced the punishment for individuals who possessed a substance safer than alcohol.
Time ran out not only on decriminalization — but also, fortunately, on a harmful bill that would have unfairly targeted marijuana consumers. HB 120 would have declared anyone with an extremely small amount of THC per milliliter of blood guilty of driving under the influence — even if the person could prove they were actually not impaired! HB 120 passed in the House, but did not receive a vote in the Senate.
Last week, New Mexico State Rep. Bill McCamley introduced HB 160, the Cannabis Revenue & Freedom Act. This bill would treat marijuana similarly to alcohol, allowing adults 21 and over to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. HB 160 would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana production and sale.
While HB 160 is an important reform that should be passed, the New Mexico legislature is also considering another bill that would unfairly target marijuana consumers. HB 120 would declare anyone with an extremely small amount of THC per millimeter of blood guilty of driving under the influence — even if the person could prove they were actually not impaired! Although intoxicated driving should not be tolerated, knee jerk ideas like per se limits are unethical, unnecessary, and not supported by science.
If you are a New Mexico resident, please email your legislators and ask them to support sensible marijuana reform like HB 160.