Albuquerque City Council Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Featured image courtesy of High Times.

The vote came at a regular meeting last night which concerned residents of Albuquerque can view here.  The bill was sponsored by Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton, it passed on a 5-4 vote.  Councilor Cynthia Borrego was among the dissenters.  During the bill’s public comment period, she stated:

There is no empirical evidence that shows a relationship between a reduction in crime and decriminalizing marijuana.

This is incorrect.  The Washington Post reports on studies from the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union that cannabis arrests are the most common drug arrests made by police officers, so just decriminalizing cannabis would significantly reduce the overall crime rate.

The local ordinance has yet to be signed into law by newly-elected Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.  A similar measure reached former Mayor Richard Berry’s desk during his tenure, he vetoed it.

Cannabis remains illegal statewide in line with national law.  Although, medical cannabis use has been legal since 2007.  An official cannabis distributor must be licenced with New Mexico’s Department of Health and a cannabis user is required to possess a valid medical card from the state Department of Health to buy it legally.

I wrote a piece on cannabis in New Mexico for The Taos News about two years ago, detailing the potential economic benefits for the rising cannabis industry in New Mexico.  State Representative Bill McCamely (Democrat, Las Cruces) has attempted to legalize cannabis twice in our state failing both times.  Governor Susana Martinez has made her position on cannabis legalization clear though without much explanation.

I think it’s worth noting that the New Mexico Legislature has struggled with its budget for the past two legislative sessions while sitting on a metaphorical gold mine.