The International Drug Policy Reform Conference will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 12-14. The conference was held in Albuquerque in 2001. It returns because the presumably New Mexico is a "beacon of reform" because of its innovative Good Samaritan laws passed to prevent fatal overdose, and its medical marijuana initiatives.
There will be a variety of drug law reform advocates including doctors, lawyers, activists, educators and law enforcement. Much of the discussion will center on the recent tide of support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
The War on Drugs has clearly failed. The War on Drugs destroys the lives of otherwise productive, law-abiding citizens. It also enriches and empowers the drug cartels. The War on Drugs has never appreciably affected drug use. Instead, it has placed a huge tax burden on federal, state and local governments. The enforcement, prosecution and punishment of drug use costs the country billions upon billions of dollars per year. This is in fact probably the reason for the new enlightened views on legalization. With governmental budgets devastated by the ongoing recession, necessity has led to enlightenment.
It remains to be seen whether Albuquerque will live up to the honorary title of "beacon of reform." Neither the Albuquerque Police Department nor the District Attorney in Albuquerque have gotten the memo. Instead, marijuana possession continues to be prosecuted quite aggressively.
The potential penalties for possession of marijuana in New Mexico remain severe. Possession of marijuana in any quantity is still considered possession of a controlled substance. Misdemeanor possession of less than 8 ounces carries up to one year in jail. Felony possession of 8 ounces or more carries criminal penalties of up to 18 months in prison. Possession of more the 30 grams carries deportation consequences. A second offense of less than 30 grams carries deportation consequences. Hopefully, someone from City of Albuquerque will attend the International Drug Policy Reform Conference. They should at least be aware of their purported leadership role in this important trend.