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If arrests for cannabis possession are a major social justice concern, the solution is decriminalizing possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering by passing Senate Bill 323, Decrease Cannabis Penalties, into law.
Dustin Sulak, D.O. a renowned integrative medicine physician and medical cannabis expert based in Maine has said, “I think the best thing for public health and the best thing for patients is decriminalization of cannabis. Not legalization and isolation.”
Senate Bill 323, Decrease Cannabis Penalties, Introduced by Senator Joseph Cervantes.
Senate Bill 323 amends Section 30-31-23 NMSA 1978, within the Controlled Substances Act, to provide the following penalties for possession of marijuana:
- Up to one-half ounce of marijuana: penalty assessment misdemeanor, up to $50 fine
- More than one-half ounce but less than one ounce:
- First offense: petty misdemeanor, fine of not less than $50 or more than $100, and imprisonment for not more than 15 days
- Second or subsequent offense: misdemeanor, fine of not less than $100 or more than $1,000, or imprisonment for definite term of less than one year, or both
- More than one ounce but less than eight ounces: misdemeanor, fine of not less than $100 or more than $1,000, or imprisonment for definite term of less than one year, or both
- Eight ounces or more: fourth degree felony pursuant to Section 31-18-15 NMSA 1978
SB 323 also amends Section 30-31-25.1 NMSA 1978 to provide a $50 penalty assessment misdemeanor for use of or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.
SB 323 enacts a new statutory section within Chapter 31, governing criminal procedure, to provide that payment of a fine pursuant to a penalty assessment citation shall not be considered a criminal conviction. The new Section 3 contains requirements upon and authority granted to an officer issuing a penalty assessment citation under the criminal code, requirements upon the person to whom the penalty assessment citation is issued, and requirements for the magistrate or metropolitan court to which the penalty assessment citation is submitted. SB 323 provides that penalty assessments collected by a magistrate court or metropolitan court pursuant to Section 3 shall be transferred to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) for credit to the Magistrate Drug Court Fund. (Legislative Analysis)