Small steps for marijuana policy reform in the Cowboy State
Last update: July 29, 2015
The 2015 session started off on a hopeful note when Rep. James Byrd introduced a bill that would have replaced criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a speeding ticket. The bill was unfortunately defeated on the House floor, but it started an important conversation about appropriate penalties for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Meanwhile, the legislature passed two helpful bills that became law in July. First, a penalty-reduction bill sponsored by Sen. Cale Case and Rep. Kendell Kroeker gives judges the option not to prosecute first time offenders under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, an option that previously existed only for the crime of possession. Also, a bill sponsored by Rep. Robert McKim allows the use of CBD oil to treat seizures.
Please write to your legislators and encourage them to support sensible reform like Rep. Byrd’s decriminalization proposal in future years. This type of reform is especially important considering the racial disparity found in marijuana possession arrests. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Wyoming are 3.2 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than their white neighbors, despite similar rates of marijuana use.
No medical cannabis in the Equality State
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now have functional medical marijuana programs. Almost 40% of Americans live in jurisdictions with compassionate medical marijuana laws, yet lawmakers in Wyoming have yet to even debate the issue. Please encourage your legislators to champion compassion and common sense by submitting a medical marijuana bill.
As we try to protect seriously ill patients from arrest, it is very important that Wyoming legislators hear from community opinion leaders on the issue. If you are a patient, a medical professional, a law enforcement official, or a clergy member, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help.
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