The Midwestern state of New Mexico is all set to become the 24th to decriminalize cannabis.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a legislation last week that it will decrease penalties for cannabis possession from a criminal to civil violation. Individuals who get caught with less than half an ounce of cannabis will face a $50 fine, instead of prison or jail. Reduced penalties for being caught with drug paraphernalia (accessories) will also come into effect soon.
These new laws pertaining to cannabis reform goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
Marijuana decriminalization is not exactly the same as full legalization. Criminal penalties linked to marijuana, such as jail time for minimal possession is no longer a factor under decriminalization. Instead, civil penalties such as a fine do remain in place and selling of marijuana continues to remain against the law.
With full legalization, criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession are no longer a factor. Also the sale of cannabis is allowed typically within licensed dispensaries. Illicit sales of cannabis would still not be legal.
Some people are in favor of decriminalization in lieu of legalization because it reduces the drain on law enforcement’s time, energy as well as resources when pursuing low-level cannabis crimes. On the other hand instating fines for cannabis possession gives a source of income for the state’s coffers, which can be allocated to pursue more detrimental criminal activity or even support state infrastructure.