New Mexico Governor Mulls Marijuana Decriminalization

Thursday, 24 June 1999

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson is asking Party leaders to consider decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs, The Albuquerque Times reported this week.

"What I do know is our present course is not working," Johnson said. "Our war on drugs is a real failure. ... [Decriminalization] needs to get talked about. We really need to put all options on the table."

The Times reported that informal discussions between Johnson and other state officials have centered on decriminalizing marijuana.

"He wants us to be open to consider that [option] as one possibility," Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl said. Dendahl added that the national GOP platform is "strongly anti-drug, pro-law enforcement and pro-stiff penalties."

Johnson said that he did not consider recreational drug users "criminals," The Albuquerque Journal reported.

Political analysts speculate that Johnson may recommend changes to the state's drug policies next year. Currently, possession of marijuana for personal use is a fine-only offense in ten states.

For more information, please contact R. Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.