Pubdate: Thu, 30 Oct 2014
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Author: Emily Kaltenbach, State Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Page: A7


Advisory Questions Can Serve a Role in Public Policy Decisions

As the people working on marijuana decriminalization, we appreciate 
the opportunity to respond to the "emphatic no" that the Albuquerque 
Journal Editorial Board gave to our advisory question.

We have heard opponents of marijuana policy reform time and again use 
every excuse in the book against us. Now the excuse is that your vote 
doesn't count. We're sure that left many asking: Then why show up?

It's important to show up because every single vote counts. The 
simple fact is that advisory questions do matter, they do affect the 
laws our lawmakers enact, and you can help create that change.

It's quite easy for our opponents to say that these are just advisory 
questions and a mere game of politics. But in reality we all know 
that advisory questions have a huge effect on our laws and our 
community. And we know that arrests for small amounts of marijuana 
disproportionately affect people of color and young people.

Most of us can recall a controversial advisory question that our city 
voted on and that did in fact change the laws in Albuquerque - the 
2011 Red Light Camera advisory question. We even recall the 
Albuquerque Journal's Editorial Board endorsing the advisory question 
and even going so far as saying, "while voters do elect officials to 
make the tough decisions, and public safety isn't something that 
necessarily belongs on a referendum, Albuquerque's red-light cameras 
should go to a public vote."

The real question that we want to ask the Albuquerque Journal 
Editorial Board is what is your aversion to allowing people to vote 
on marijuana decriminalization? Is it that you don't think that your 
subscribers are smart enough to advise our lawmakers on what laws to 
pass, as you did in 2011? Or, is it that you think taxpayers should 
keep spending money for our law enforcement officers to waste 
valuable resources on arresting people for possession of small 
amounts of marijuana, instead of focusing on more serious crimes?

We want you to know that your vote still matters - despite what the 
Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board has told you.

Exercise your right to vote, be a part of this historic vote in New 
Mexico, and help us decriminalize marijuana. We know that our 
lawmakers are watching - just like they were in 2011 when you told 
them to get rid of our red light cameras. Your vote and your voice still matter.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom