Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Marijuana Day at the Roundhouse?


Marijuana Day? Well, not really.

However, the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance at 11:15 a.m. today will present the results of a poll they say reflects that New Mexicans are “shifting their views on drug policy reform.”

I haven't seen the poll yet, and I don't even know which polling organization did it.

But I've got to add a big word of caution here: Results from polls commissioned by an organization -- be it a political campaign or an advocacy group -- tend to say what the organization wants. Not accusing anyone of dishonesty here, it's just a fact of life.

And if you don't believe me, ask U.S. Sen. Heather Wilson.

That being said, it's not a big stretch to think that public attitudes towards marijuana are shifting toward liberalizing the laws. New Mexico has had its medical marijuana law for years and none of the horror stories envisioned by the opponents came true. And of course there's our neighbor to the north, Colorado, where voters just last November said to legalize it.

The news conference is scheduled in Room 318 of the Capitol.

There are two major pieces of marijuana reform legislation in this session. House Bill 465, sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane, D-Albuquerque -- , which would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession -- is on the agenda of The House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee today. (I wrote about that a few weeks ago. Read it HERE.)

Warning, though. That committee doesn't meet until after the House floor session, so that could run late.

The other piece of marijuana legislation is Senate Joint Memorial 31, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. This memorial asks the state to study the fiscal effects of legalizing marijuana in the state.

SJM 31 was on the Senate Rules Committee's agenda yesterday, but it did't get heard. Maybe tomorrow.

UPDATE: 11:47 am:  I have some information on the poll, which was performed by Brian Sanderoff's Research & Polling, Inc. (a legit outfit) and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.

According to the executive summary, 57 percent of New Mexico voters polled favor reducing penalties for adult possession of marijuana to a civil penalty with small fines and no jail time (much like Rep. Kane's bill would do).

A slightly smaller number, 52 percent say they would support legalizing marijuana for adults so it could be taxed and regulated.

Nearly 40 percent said their legislator's position on the issue would not be likely to make a difference in how they vote. 31 percent said they'd be more likely to vote for a legislator who voted to reduce penalties for marijuana possession.

The firm polled 514 voters. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

UPDATE: 1:40 pm Embedded below is the poll, with crosstabs.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.