It was close, but by a vote of 37-33 the New Mexico House passed legislation removing the possibility of jail time for possession of marijuana. Next, the bill will move to the Senate where it will be assigned to a committee. It will then need to win the support of the majority of committee members, then a majority of the full Senate.
If it passes in the Senate and is not vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, H.B. 465 would make the first offense for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense, punishable only by a $50 fine. Possession of one to four ounces would also be punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. Second offenses would be petty misdemeanors subject to double the fine amount, but would still carry no risk of jail time. Possession of four to eight ounces would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300.
If you live in New Mexico, please don't wait - contact your senator now and urge him or her to support H.B. 465. When you’re done, forward this to your friends who live in New mexico and ask them to do the same.
New Mexico health officials have once again decided to expand the state's medical marijuana program. From the Associated Press:
[I]n another change that was welcomed by advocacy groups, Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil agreed to license eight new growers, boosting the state total to 25 in a push to increase plant production and serve more patients.
Since the program started in 2007, the state has faced problems ensuring a steady supply.
Vigil also agreed to allow growers to produce 150 mature plants and seedlings. Under earlier regulations, the limit was 95 plants.
To help finance the program, the state is also enacting new annual fees for growers, "ranging from $5,000 for producers licensed for less than a year up to $30,000 for those licensed for more than three years." There are currently about 3,000 patients in New Mexico's program, about half of whom have licenses to grow their own medicine.
Incoming Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has been openly hostile to the state's medical marijuana program, but a state health department spokesperson told the AP that the new changes will be implemented regardless of the change in office.
New Mexico’s Department of Health has announced the approval of six new nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, bringing the state’s total number to 17. According to the New Mexico Independent, the department is also considering a number of proposed changes to its medical marijuana program, including:
*Implementing an annual fee for nonprofit producers based on how long the nonprofit has been operating (previously proposed 7 percent fee on gross annual revenue). The fees would be $5,000 for producers licensed less than one year, $10,000 for more than one year, $20,000 for more than two years and $30,000 for more than three years.
*Eliminating the proposed open and closed application periods
*Removing size requirements from definition of mature plant and size limits from definition of seedling
*Allowing nonprofit producers to get plants, seeds and useable cannabis from other licensed nonprofit producers
There are currently more than 2,800 registered medical marijuana patients in New Mexico, more than 1,200 of whom have individual permits to grow their own medicine.
Incoming New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has vowed to repeal the state’s medical marijuana law, widely considered one of the tightest regulated in the country. Thankfully, such an act would first have to pass through the state legislature, which has remained supportive of the program.
We’re still tracking down all the results from yesterday’s election, but here’s a quick look at how things fared in races affecting marijuana policy.
This year witnessed historic progress in the campaign to end marijuana prohibition – but as some of these results below show, there remains much work ahead. MPP and others are already looking to build on this year’s advances by launching new campaigns in 2012.
First, the good news: Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts
The only two major party gubernatorial candidates in the nation to vocally support medical marijuana and decriminalization were both victorious. Democrat Peter Shumlin won in Vermont, and Democrat Dan Malloy won in Connecticut. Both men bring renewed hope to efforts to pass more sensible marijuana laws in their respective states.
Also, in Massachusetts, voters in 18 out of 18 districts have overwhelmingly approved a series of non-binding policy questions asking whether they support medical marijuana or the regulation of marijuana like alcohol. That not only sends a strong pro-reform message to state lawmakers, but is a good sign for future efforts in Massachusetts as well.
Next, the bad news: California, Oregon, South Dakota, and New Mexico
As most readers probably already know, California’s Proposition 19, which would have made the Golden State the first in the nation to fully end the prohibition on adult marijuana use, was defeated last night. Garnering 46% of the vote, it still made history as the highest statewide vote in favor of marijuana legalization to date.
Sadly, the Obama administration took this defeat as an opportunity to spout more baseless “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda.
In Oregon, Measure 74, which would have authorized state-licensed dispensaries, also failed, as did South Dakota’s Measure 13 for medical marijuana. Pre-election polling showed both measures trailing significantly.
And in New Mexico, voters have elected Republican Susana Martinez as the state’s next governor. Martinez has previously voiced her desire to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law – considered by many to be a national model for regulation.
But wait – the undecided! Arizona and California attorney general
The only marijuana ballot measure that still retains a hope of victory is Arizona’s Proposition 203, the medical marijuana initiative that would establish up to 120 licensed dispensaries in Arizona and received significant support from MPP. Current results show the measure down by fewer than 7,000 votes, but we have reports that up to 200,000 ballots have not yet been counted. It still has a chance!
And finally – in a hugely significant contest for the future of medical marijuana in California – it appears that Republican Steve Cooley is heading toward defeat in the race for California attorney general. Simply put, Cooley is a self-declared enemy of medical marijuana laws, and his election could have wrought all kinds of hardship on thousands of patients and providers throughout California.
That’s all for now. We have more updates and analysis on the way.
Voters all across the country will cast ballots tomorrow in elections that could alter the course of U.S. marijuana policy for years to come. Here are the 9 most important contests to watch for the movement to end marijuana prohibition:
- California: Proposition 19 would make marijuana legal for all adults – it represents the best chance to date for a single state to overturn the failure of marijuana prohibition and offer an alternative for others to follow. It would make it legal for all adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as grow a 25-square-foot marijuana garden on their property. It would also allow localities to tax and regulate marijuana sales, but it remains unclear how the federal government would react if Prop 19 passes. Website: yeson19.org
- Arizona: Proposition 203, an MPP-backed initiative, would allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases to use marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation. Patients could purchase their medicine from tightly regulated, state-licensed dispensaries or grow their own if they live more than 25 miles from a clinic. Website: stoparrestingpatients.org
- Oregon: Measure 74 would expand the state’s existing medical marijuana law by authorizing regulated, state-licensed nonprofit clinics to provide improved patient access to their medicine. The system would generate an estimated $3 to $20 million a year for the state through taxes and fees. Website: measure74.com
- South Dakota: Measure 13 would allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS and other serious ailments to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctor. Patients could grow their own medicine or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. Website: sdcompassion.org
- Vermont: VOTE Peter Shumlin for governor. Shumlin (D), the state Senate pro tempore, played a major role in passing Vermont’s medical marijuana law in 2004, and has been a staunch advocate for marijuana decriminalization. MPP has spent years lobbying for a decriminalization law in Vermont. With Shumlin as governor, Vermont would be well poised to pass decriminalization and expand its medical marijuana law by authorizing licensed dispensaries. Website: www.shumlinforgovernor.com
- California: NOT Steve Cooley for attorney general. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) is a rabid anti-marijuana zealot who has falsely claimed that all medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, and that he would continue to prosecute adults for marijuana crimes even if voters pass Proposition 19. If he wins the election for state attorney general, he will become the state’s top law enforcement official and could reverse years of progress toward saner marijuana laws in California. Website: notcooley.com
- New Mexico: NOT Susana Martinez for governor. Martinez (R), the leading candidate for governor, has said she will work to overturn New Mexico’s medical marijuana law if elected. New Mexico’s law enjoys wide popular support and is often described as the tightest-regulated law in the country. But Martinez believes federal law should trump a popular local law – despite the Obama administration’s promise of non-intervention in state medical marijuana laws. Website: donttakeawaymymedicine.org
- Connecticut: VOTE Dan Malloy for governor. Malloy (D) has said that he “absolutely” supports decriminalizing marijuana, as well as medical marijuana legislation that would protect seriously ill patients from arrest. Outgoing Gov. Jodi M. Rell vetoed medical marijuana legislation in 2007. If Malloy were elected governor, proponents would be given renewed hope for passing a medical marijuana law in Connecticut. Website: danmalloy.com
- Massachusetts: More than 70 local municipalities in Massachusetts will be voting on non-binding resolutions and public policy questions calling on the state government to pass medical marijuana or end marijuana prohibition entirely. These initiatives are a great opportunity for Massachusetts voters to send a strong message to their state lawmakers, as well as give local organizers a better sense of where things stand for future marijuana initiatives in Massachusetts. Website: masscann.org
You can find links to other MPP state voter guides at our state page.
Now -- if you haven't already -- go out and VOTE!