Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 3-2 today to include two questions on the November ballot. One will ask whether voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. The other will ask whether voters support a tax increase to fund mental health services. The non-binding measures passed on a party line vote.
Commissioners voting in support of including the mental health question on the ballot said a current lack of behavioral health services in New Mexico is a growing problem for the state.
Democratic Chair Debbie O’Malley said raising the gross receipts tax one-eighth of a percent to 7.125 percent would fund a regional behavioral health crisis center to serve patients who are otherwise taken to jail for treatment.
“This, I believe, is a crisis," O'Malley said. "It’s very difficult for people to have hope that things will improve, that their children will have opportunity here. It also has a very negative impact on our local economy."
Both the marijuana decriminalization question and the mental health services question are non-binding, so even if voters approve them there won’t be any change in the law.
Still, Commissioner O’Malley said the measures are important in order to gauge public opinion. If one or both measures pass, Bernalillo Commissioners say they will then work towards changing the laws.