After falling short of required signatures in Santa Fe last week, the Reducing Marijuana Penalties campaign plans to collect new signatures and hand them in to the city clerk's office each day until they meet the goal.
The effort, which aims to reduce city punishments for small marijuana crimes from a misdemeanor of up to 15 days in prison to a civil infraction and $25 fine, received a minor blow last week when City Clerk Yolanda Vigil certified just 3,569 of the more than 7,000 signatures from the petition drive.
Reducing Marijuana Penalties gave itself a July 15 deadline to collect the required 5,673 signatures from registered city voters to make the ballot this November. That was meant to allow the city clerk 10 days to certify the signatures and get the City Council to vote to approve the resolution as quickly as possible.
Organizers attribute missing the goal to signatures from Santa Fe County residents who don't live within city limits as well as voters registered under different addresses than they wrote on the form (people who may have moved since they last registered to vote, for example).
But city law still gives ballot initiative seekers a total of 90 days—or roughly two more months for Reducing Marijuana Penalties—to collect signatures.
Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, which spearheaded the decriminalization effort with Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, says they've still been collecting signatures since July 15. Betterday Coffee, Video Library and Plaza Café Southside are currently hosting petition-signing at their respective businesses.
"We are still canvassing, businesses are still hosting and we're turning in hundreds of signatures every day until we meet the requirement," Davis says.
Davis says the campaign already submitted 700 signatures to the city clerk Monday morning and anticipates that it will keep up this pace each day.
A City Council agenda still lists an item about the decriminalization measure on the November ballot at Wednesday's 5pm meeting. There, they'll have the option to approve the initiative for the ballot contingent on the campaign eventually collecting the required signatures. Whether they'll do so is another question.
Meanwhile, Reducing Marijuana Penalties is preparing to hand in thousands of signatures for a similar decriminalization effort in Albuquerque Monday afternoon. Davis says the campaign there collected 16,017 signatures across that city—a decent safety net above the required 11,203 to make the city ballot this fall.