Albuquerque City Council Just Voted to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijuana

This ordinance is a first step to push back against laws that have deeply impacted, in particular, poor communities.

Albuquerque Passes Marijuana Decrim

Well, New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque, that is, where the City Council just voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

In public meetings held to discuss the issue, the public seemed to agree with the new ordinance, according to the Albuquerque Journal, which noted that only one person out of several spoke out in opposition during the meeting.

One woman told the City Council that she uses marijuana to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder after being violently sexually assaulted.

At the moment, getting busted for possession of an ounce or less could lead to arrest, sentence of up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $50 for a first offense…and, worst of all, a nasty mark on one’s permanent record.

Ana Moran, a field organizer with the ACLU of New Mexico, said being criminally charged with weed possession can permanently affects one’s ability to find housing and employment.

Other life-ruining consequences of marijuana arrests include being ineligible for financial aid for college, personal loans, and losing time at work or losing one’s job. Among the worse outcomes is being unable to post bail, which could mean weeks or months in jail waiting for trial.

“This ordinance is a powerful first step to push back against laws that have deeply impacted, in particular, poor communities of color,” Ms. Moran said.

Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the ACLU.

Emily Kaltenbach of the Drug Policy Alliance said the new law would bring Albuquerque in line with the one-third of Americans already living in areas that have decriminalized weed.

The bill now heads to Mayor Tim Keller, who expressed support for decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana on the campaign trail.

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