Senate To Vote On Lighter Marijuana Penalties

Mar 10, 2015

Similar legislation that would have lessened the penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession passed through the House in 2013.
Credit eggrole via Flickr

People caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be issued a citation much like a speeding ticket under a proposal that is heading to the Senate floor for a vote.

The bill, which passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote Monday night, would not alter the current law for having more than half a pound of marijuana – that would remain a fourth degree felony. But penalties for lesser amounts would be softened.

MacKenzie Allen is a retired deputy sheriff living in Santa Fe who said arresting people for small amounts of marijuana clogs the criminal justice system.

“To take a bunch of people who are just trying to get high, because they’re using marijuana instead of my drug of choice, a vodka martini or a glass of wine with dinner, it’s an absurdity,” Allen said. “It is not something we should be locking people up for.”

If approved by the full Senate, the measure would have to pass through the Republican-controlled House before going to Governor Susana Martinez, who has said she does not support lighter penalties for marijuana possession.