Two advocacy organizations are in the midst of a crunch-time push to get a marijuana decriminalization effort on the Santa Fe city ballot this November.
ProgressNow New Mexico and Drug Policy Action, an advocacy group affiliated with Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, are seeking signatures this week with the goal of turning them into the city clerk on Tuesday, July 15. Both organizations in late May launched a marijuana decriminalization ballot initiative effort in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
The initiative would ask voters in both cities to drop the punishment for people caught with an ounce or less of marijuana from potential jail time to a $25 fine for each violation. The goal is to make stop jailing people for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
As of Thursday, the "Reducing Marijuana Penalties" effort had more than half of the required 5,673 signatures from to make the ballot, according to ProgressNow NM Executive Director Pat Davis and Drug Policy Alliance NM Executive Director Emily Kaltenbach.
July 15 is the self-imposed deadline for the Santa Fe effort. The initiative actually has most of the summer to get the signatures turned in to the city clerk, but Davis says the group wants to turn them in early to make sure the question can get on November ballot. Once they hand in the signatures, the city clerk has 10 days to confirm their authenticity. Then the measure goes to City Council, which has 60 days to get it on a ballot to voters.
Davis says that turning in the signatures by next week will be the best way to avoid future challenges.
"It's the greatest likelihood we'll get it on the ballot," he says.
Both Davis and Kaltenbach add that the Albuquerque decriminalization effort is also more than halfway to the signature goal. To reach the ballot, the Duke City needs a total of 11,203 signatures. Davis says they'll be using Albuquerque's upcoming Summerfest for the big push there.
People interested in signing on must be registered voters. In Santa Fe, the Reducing Marijuana Penalties group is currently accepting signatures for the effort at Betterday Coffe (905 W Alameda St.), Video Library (839 Paseo De Peralta), Drug Policy Action (343 E Alameda St.), La Montañita Co-op (913 W Alameda St.) and Plaza Café Southside (3466 Zafarano Road).