ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the April 1 date for legalizing marijuana coming up quickly, a lot of people are wondering if we’ll be seeing more and more pot smokers in public and what will the enforcement look like.
That’s one of the issues the city of Albuquerque is trying to deal with by tweaking laws. While it’s illegal to drink in public, there’s nothing on the books now for smoking marijuana in public. Now there’s a bill going through the city council to liken it to smoking a cigarette inside a building where it’s banned. Police would have to enforce it, something the union is not thrilled about.
Shaun Willoughby is the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association President and he explains, “This is going to set an unrealistic expectation on law enforcement agencies throughout the state to try to regulate this law and we do not possess the manpower, the training, and the reinforcements to get it done.”
The Albuquerque Fire and Police Departments would be responsible for enforcing the revised Albuquerque Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. It adds pot smoking on streets and sidewalks at bus stops and in common areas in apartment buildings to the city’s smoking ban. Fines would be the same as they are now for violating a smoking ban — up to $100 for a first violation and $200 max for a second.
People KRQE News 13 spoke to don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of enforcement. Jolan Watson says, “I mean there’s a lot of crime in Albuquerque and I think that’s probably one of their least concerns is people smoking weed.”
Others are hopeful these rules will be enforced. “I do think that it should be held as you know a substance that should be treated like any other,” says Charles Stewart.
There are also a couple of other bills making their way through the city council to repeal marijuana laws on the books. One would get rid of the citation for possession for people 21 and up — the other would legalize marijuana paraphernalia.
News 13 reached out to the mayor’s office and APD to ask about enforcement come April 1st — and did not get a response to the question.