Advocates for a marijuana decriminalization ballot initiative in Santa Fe came up short last week, but the drive for signatures continues.
On July 25, City Clerk Yolanda Vigil approved just 3,569 of the more than 7,000 signatures submitted from the initiative, which seeks to reduce city punishments for small marijuana crimes from a misdemeanor with up to 15 days in prison to a civil infraction and $25 fine. The Reducing Marijuana Penalties initiative needs an total of 5,673 signatures from registered city voters to make the ballot this fall.
Organizers gave themselves a July 15 deadline to gather all the signatures to give the city clerk and City Council enough time to get the measure on the November ballot. But city law gives the initiative a total of 90 days—or roughly two more months—to collect all the signatures.
Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, which spearheaded the ballot initiative with Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, says the signature drive never stopped after July 15.
"We are still canvassing, businesses are still hosting and we're still turning in hundreds of signatures every day until we meet the requirement," he says.
Betterday Coffee, Video Library and Plaza Café Southside are among the businesses currently hosting petition signature drives.
Meanwhile, the Santa Fe City Council is still set to consider putting the decriminalization question on the November ballot at its 5 pm meeting on Wednesday, July 30. The campaign is unlikely to collect the proper amount of signatures that soon, but City Council does have the power to approve the initiative contingent on the campaign eventually collecting what the law requires.