Pot possession lowered to small fine in Albuquerque

Published: April 15, 2018 3:33 am0 commentsViews: 71

ALBUQUERQUE – Mayor Tim Keller signed legislation on Thursday April 12 that amends the city’s criminal code, making low-level cannabis possession of one ounce or less without a valid medical marijuana referral a citable offense.

Instead of jail time and a criminal penalty fee, police would issue a $25 fine.

“We’re facing real challenges in Albuquerque and this is a step in the right direction to allow our officers the flexibility to better prioritize their time tackling violent crime and property crime in our city,” Keller said.

Council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton sponsored the ordinance, which narrowly passed the City Council on a 5–4 vote. City officials say the new law will go into effect next week.

Police Chief Michael Geier said in a statement that police can focus on other crimes, but noted police will still charge people under state or federal criminal laws.

“It’s important for the public to be aware that this does not change state or federal law and officers will still have a choice to pursue criminal charges when appropriate,” Geier said.

The Santa Fe Reporter investigation into a similar ordinance the city of Santa Fe passed in 2014, found that many officers were still charging people under criminal state law, which still allows for jail time. There has been efforts to pass a similar law statewide but has not yet passed.

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