KUNM

State Police Ignore Decriminalization Law In Albuquerque

May 31, 2019

People in Albuquerque may think getting busted with a little marijuana results in only a ticket and a fine. But state police officers were sent to Albuquerque in May to crack down on crime, and they’re enforcing state law. That means there’s still a way for even small amounts of weed or paraphernalia to put people here in cuffs.

Over a year ago, city leaders announced that possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in Albuquerque was no longer a criminal offense, and people would face only a $25 fine. But state police are patrolling the southside of the city through at least July 4, and they’re making arrests that the Albuquerque Police Department doesn’t. 

"This operation in Albuquerque is being proactive. Now that’s being proactive with drugs, in the violent crimes," said New Mexico State Police Department spokesperson Lt. Mark Soriano.   

One man was arrested and charged with possession of a marijuana pipe and pill bottle.

"You know New Mexico state police enforce the state laws," Soriano said. "So part of the state law is for drug paraphernalia, and that is an arrestable offense."

The Legislature did pass a bill to decriminalize marijuana and paraphernalia statewide this year, which will change the game for state police. The governor signed it, but it doesn’t take effect until July 1, and arrest for those offenses is still a possibility.