Nearly three months after City Council approved decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, the new ordinance still isn't being fully enforced.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that the city still hasn't provided its police force with forms that charge marijuana violators with civil infractions instead of criminal misdemeanors. City spokesman Matt Ross says they will come any moment now.
"The forms have been ordered and everything has been done on our end," Ross says. "We're just waiting for everything to be printed and delivered."
Another reason for the delay is the slow rollout of the law. City Council voted to reduce marijuana penalties from misdemeanors punishable with prison-time to infractions punishable with a $25 fee on Aug. 27. The ordinance didn't go into effect until Sept. 10—five days after it was fully published in the local newspaper, per city rules. Even after that, City Council still didn't agree on how to actually enforce the decriminalization law until the night of Oct. 8, during one of its meetings.
The Santa Fe New Mexican last week reported that the Santa Fe Police Department still continued to issue citations under the old city ordinance after the new ordinance was passed on Aug. 27. The newspaper cited 31 misdemeanor citations being filed since then in total, with 40 percent of them being filed under the tougher state law, which still views marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor.
But roughly a dozen of those citations occurred before Sept. 10, the date the new ordinance became official. None them occurred during or after Oct. 8, the night City Council agreed on administrative guidelines to enforce the decriminalization ordinance.
Because she no longer has jurisdiction over marijuana violations, Municipal Judge Ann Yalman threw out about a dozen citations that were given to people after Sept. 10. She says they stopped coming to her court recently.
SFR took a look at many of the citations. One of them that stood out featured officer Trace Evridge, who appeared in SFR's September cover story about decriminalization. On Sept. 19, Evridge gave a citation to a woman for having a blue pipe with marijuana in it. Evridge apparently had trouble bringing the pipe to police headquarters.
"The marijuana pipe was lost during transit and I was unable to enter it into evidence," his report reads.