Yesterday, House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Eric Barlow (R) introduced a bill to legalize medical cannabis in the Cowboy State! Under House Bill 0278, cannabis would be tested and regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
Unfortunately, Wyoming is one of the 18 states with no effective cannabis law, even though over 70% of Wyomingites support legalizing cannabis for medical use.
Medical cannabis is proven to be effective in the treatment of a variety of debilitating medical conditions, and seriously ill people should not be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using a safer treatment option than opiates.
Please contact your lawmakers today to ask them to support HB 0278. Then, forward this message to your family and friends in Wyoming!
The Wyoming Legislature is only meeting for a limited, budget session this year, but two-thirds of senators voted to spend time considering an increase in the penalties for possessing marijuana products.
Senate File 23, sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee, would set the threshold for a felony charge — for mere possession — at three grams of concentrate, three ounces of edibles, or 36 ounces of liquids (such as infused soda). This is extremely low; one tray of marijuana brownies could easily weigh one pound (16 ounces) and contain only 1/8 of an ounce of cannabis flower. Yet, three ounces of flower is required to trigger a felony charge under current law.
Instead of wasting time trying to give more citizens felony records, which will have a huge negative impact on their ability to get a job, housing, or an education, the legislature should consider more sensible policies. If you are a Wyoming resident, please ask your lawmakers to eliminate the existing felony for possession of marijuana flower and remove jail time for possessing personal use amounts of cannabis.
A new bill, HB 157, has been introduced in Wyoming by Rep. Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater) and a bipartisan group of legislators that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. This would avoid branding someone with a lifelong criminal record for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.
HB 157 would apply to up to three ounces of cannabis or marijuana products (such as edibles) containing 500 milligrams or less of THC. Under current Wyoming law, possession of even a tiny amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. Rep. Baker’s bill would reduce the penalty to a civil fine of up to $200.
If you are a Wyoming resident, please ask your legislators to stop arresting people for cannabis so law enforcement can focus on violent crime.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature approved a bill – HB 29 – that would replace the current criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a more sensible civil fine. By a vote of 7-2, the committee supported the proposal that will end the threat of arrest for first and second possession charges.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Byrd, the bill originally sought to impose a civil fine of $50 for the first or second possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana and a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce. The committee amended this language and set the fines at $250 for possession of up to half an ounce and $500 for possession of up to an ounce. If you are a Wyoming resident, please encourage your representative to support this bill, and ask her or him to lower the fine as well.
No one should be saddled with a criminal record for the simple act of possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. If HB 29 is made law, Wyomingites will no longer face that overly harsh penalty. Email your representatives in support of HB 29 and encourage your friends and family in Wyoming to do so too!
According to The Washington Post:
A University of Wyoming poll, which included 768 residents statewide, found 72 percent of the respondents to support marijuana use if it is recommended by a physician, while only 25 percent oppose it.
However, only 35 percent of the survey respondents favor legal, recreational use of the substance, while 60 percent are opposed to it.
Survey responses concerning recreational marijuana show a modest increase supporting adult marijuana use and consistency on the issue of medical marijuana use, said Jim King, University of Wyoming professor of political science and co-director of the survey.
“Our 2000 poll showed 23 percent approving legalization of marijuana in general, so, there has been a bit of a shift in public opinion on this aspect of the marijuana debate,” King stated. “On the other hand, the 2000 and 2014 surveys have the same proportion of Wyoming residents, 72 percent, accepting medical marijuana use.”
Although Wyoming residents do not support legalization of marijuana for personal use, they accept reduced penalties for those apprehended in possession of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 62 percent, believe the penalty for marijuana possession should not include time in jail; 32 percent support jail sentences.
At the very least, a large portion of survey respondents have demonstrated their support for making medical marijuana legal, as well as reducing the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana. As more and more states continue to adopt sensible marijuana policies, it seems likely that public opinion will continue to shift in a direction towards increased support for the adult use of marijuana.