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Santa Fe moves a step closer to decriminalizing marijuana

By Joseph Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe took a step towards decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana on Tuesday when the county commission agreed to put the issue up for a vote in November.

The five-member commission approved a ballot measure that would give voters the chance to decide whether to abolish a current statute classifying possession of less than one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana as a misdemeanor.

Under the current law, penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana range from fines between $50 to $100 and up to 15 days in jail.

The Santa Fe City Council must now approve putting the measure on the November ballot. A vote was expected Wednesday.

Santa Fe is the latest U.S. city to take steps towards decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Washington D.C. earlier this year decriminalized possession of less than one ounce, part of a nationwide trend to eliminate penalties for holding small amounts of the drug.

Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana use in voter initiatives in 2012.

More than 7,000 petition signatures were obtained by local activist groups to support the Santa Fe ballot measure.

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere)

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