Diverse attempts at reform killed in legislature; penalty reduction still possible
Last update: February 22, 2017
Numerous marijuana policy reform bills were introduced in the 2017 session, but most failed to advance prior to a February 3 deadline. Three of the bills that were considered would have expanded Wyoming’s very limited medical cannabis protections: HB 265, sponsored by Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Laramie), would have created a system for doctors to recommend low-THC medical cannabis but did not set up dispensaries; HB 81 would have expanded Wyoming’s existing CBD bill to include dependent adults and any medical conditions; and HB 247 would have allowed out-of-state patients to legally possess their medicine in Wyoming.
Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater) failed a committee vote despite bipartisan support, and an effort he led with Rep. James Byrd (D-Laramie) to amend the constitution to legalize marijuana was not considered.
There is some good news, however. A penalty reduction bill, HB 197, passed the House, although some bad amendments were added in the Senate, including applying the penalty reduction only to certain forms of marijuana. The House version would be a significant improvement over current law, as it reduces the penalty for first-time possession of less than three ounces of marijuana, or less than eight ounces of products containing THC, to 20 days in jail and/or a $200 fine. This is much closer to what an overwhelming majority — 72% of Wyoming voters —want, which is to end jail time altogether for people in possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to a recent survey.
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. However, it does not contain any provision for in-state access and leaves many patients behind; only 2.5% of registered patients in Colorado and less than 1% of patients in Arizona list seizures as their qualifying condition. Please encourage your legislators to champion compassion and common sense by supporting medical marijuana legislation.
A local organization, Wyoming NORML, tried to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot and then the 2018 ballot, but unfortunately its efforts were hampered by an internal re-organization, and the effort fell short.
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