Small steps for marijuana policy reform in the Cowboy State
Last update: January 26, 2016
In 2015, the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to replace criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a speeding ticket. Although the decriminalization bill fell short on the House floor, it was an important step forward, and bill sponsor Rep. James Byrd is not giving up. He has introduced a similar bill this year — HB 3. Please write to your legislators and encourage them to support sensible reform like Rep. Byrd’s decriminalization proposal. 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.
The legislature did pass a helpful bill in the last session that became law in July 2015. The 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.
No medical cannabis in the Equality State
A bill sponsored by Rep. Robert McKim, which became law in July 2015, allows the use of CBD oil to treat seizures. It does not contain any provision for in-state access and leaves many patients behind; only 2% of patients in Colorado and Rhode Island list seizures as their qualifying condition. Rep. Byrd has introduced HB 7, which would allow patients who have a medical card in another state to possess marijuana in Wyoming, but the law would only apply to residents of those other states.
Wyoming does not have any bill pending that would provide full access to medical marijuana. 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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