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Wyoming Judge Dismisses Marijuana Charges Against Hemp Farmers

CHEYENNE—A Laramie County judge threw out drug trafficking charges against hemp advocates and farmers Debra Palm-Egle and Joshua Egle Thursday, finding prosecutors lacked probable cause that the mother-and-son duo intended to grow and distribute marijuana.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Laramie County Circuit Court Judge Antoinette Williams also dismissed charges against a contractor and his wife, Brock and Shannon Dyke, who worked for the farmers and were on the property when the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation raided it in November 2019.

Prosecutors sought to charge all four with conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possess marijuana; possession with intent to deliver marijuana; possession of marijuana and planting or cultivating marijuana. All but the last are felonies. The judge dismissed all charges, including a misdemeanor marijuana charge, a court clerk said Friday.

Lawyers for the defendant argued, and the judge ultimately ruled, that the farmers had intended to produce hemp, not marijuana. The day of the raid, Brock Dykes showed DCI agents the results of tests conducted on the crop that indicated it contained less than 0.3% THC.

Under Wyoming’s hemp statutes, the crop has to have a THC-concentration limit below 0.3%. Marijuana and hemp are derived from the same plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical in marijuana that gets users high. Its low presence in hemp keeps the crop from being categorized a drug.

Acting on a tip, DCI ultimately seized 700 pounds of hemp from the Egles’ farm. When agents ran it through a series of their own tests, most test results came back with THC concentrations higher than 0.3%. The highest result was 0.6%.

Laramie County Assistant District Attorney David Singleton, who prosecuted the case, argued that any plant testing over 0.3% is marijuana, not hemp. The judge, however, said it was clear the farmers intended to grow hemp, citing as evidence Dyke’s presentation of earlier test results to DCI and the Egles’ long history as hemp farmers.

Reached by phone Friday, Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove declined to comment on the case.

The dismissal of the case at such an early stage in criminal procedures — during a preliminary hearing — is unusual. Tom Jubin, a lawyer for the Egles, said that during his decades-long career this was only the third of his cases to end at that early stage.

“It’s pretty rare but it’s also pretty rare that a prosecutor would take a case like this and push it,” Jubin told WyoFile after the judge’s verdict.

“Please, have the courage to get these people home,” Jubin asked the judge during his closing remarks. In June, a different judge restricted Deborah Palm-Egle to Laramie County, though her home is in Colorado, her son told WyoFile.

Judge Williams’ own comments before her verdict were brief.

She understood why prosecutors had chosen to bring the case, she said, but did not believe they had probable cause. She also reprimanded the Egles, who had begun growing their hemp crop without a license while state and federal authorities were still developing rules for the newly legalized crop.

The Egles were prominent activists in front of the Legislature who helped push Wyoming’s hemp bill through. House Majority Floor Leader Eric Barlow (R-Gillette), who took the witness stand Thursday, testified that he knew the Egles and understood them to be hemp farmers with no intention of growing marijuana. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Dan Kirkbride (R-Chugwater) and Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier submitted statements with similar testimony in support of the Egles.

As such, the Egles “knew the law as well as anyone,” Williams said, and should have been licensed.

Under Wyoming statute, the Egles could face a $750 fine for growing hemp without a license. Such a penalty is a far cry from the decades of prison time they could have gotten if convicted on prosecutors’ charges.

After the judge’s ruling, Shannon Dykes rushed to tearfully embrace Palm-Egle, who is in a wheelchair. “Thank God it’s over,” Palm-Egle said.

Joshua Egle began growing what he described as a test crop of hemp for research purposes before he got his license, he told WyoFile after the hearing. Working in unfamiliar soil, it would take time for farmers to understand how to harvest the plants at the right time to keep THC concentrations legal, he said.

At the time, he was betting officials would soon work out the new industry regulation kinks and allow him to license the crop, he said. In the meantime, “we had to get going,” he said.

The Egles, and other hemp proponents, have pitched the crop as a new outlet for Wyoming’s farmers, and a viable path for economic diversification for a state struggling with its dependence on the energy industry. Egle will continue to pursue hemp farming in Wyoming, he said.

The raid
On Nov. 4, the Dykes were at the Egles’ property in Albin, a farming village in eastern Laramie County near the Nebraska line. The Egles, who live principally in Colorado, were not home. Brock Dykes was taking advantage of fresh snow to burn some waste wood, he told WyoFile in an interview after the judge’s verdict Thursday.

Dykes and his wife were standing outside and saw a line of unmarked cars, and one Wyoming Highway Patrol car, coming toward the property, he said. Their first thought was someone had called in concern about the smoke, he said. His two sons, then 11 and 12 years old, were inside the farmhouse.

Law enforcement officers, who ultimately turned out to be DCI agents, came out of the cars in tactical gear and with rifles pointed at the couple, the Dykes said, yelling at them to “put their fucking hands up.” Brock Dykes saw “five or six officers with a battering ram” approaching the door of the house where his sons were, he said. He yelled that it was unlocked and they didn’t use the ram.

Officers trained guns on the two boys as well, the Dykes said. It was 45 minutes to an hour before Shannon Dykes was able to see her sons, she said.

The investigation had begun when a “reliable source of information” called DCI concerned that the Egles were growing marijuana, according to the charging documents. DCI agents visited the farm several times and spotted what they believed to be marijuana plants drying in an open barn.

DCI agents never contacted the Egles, either before the raid or during the five months between the raid and pressing felony charges, according to the DCI investigator’s testimony during the trial.

“You sought charges against these farmers for crimes that carry decades of prison time without ever talking to them?” Jubin asked DCI Special Agent John Briggs, who led the investigation, during the hearings.

“I did not interview them, no sir,” the investigator answered.

The Dykes were never handcuffed during the raid, they said. Testimony during the preliminary hearing, which took place over two afternoons in July and August, established that Brock Dykes tried to explain the Egles were growing hemp. He showed officers the THC testing results Joshua Egle had sent him, which were on his cellphone.

Briggs was not interested in those results at the time of the raid, Dykes told WyoFile. Briggs told Dykes “I’m not going to argue with you about the technical difference between hemp and marijuana,” Dykes said.

The Dykes’ attorney, Michael Bennett, asked the judge to consider what kind of criminal would “show [testing] proof to agents, as if it were some elaborate ruse to grow the worst marijuana in the entire universe.”

DCI agents confiscated 722 pounds of plants, according to the affidavit. During the court hearings, Briggs testified that then-agency director Steve Woodson, and then assistant-director Forrest Williams drove a vehicle to the farm to collect the crop. Woodson retired in early 2020, and Williams is today the agency’s interim director.

Though relieved at the judge’s action Thursday, the Dykes remain angry at the DCI agents and prosecutors who brought such heavy charges against them. The young couple and small business owners have had to pay for weekly drug tests since early June, and spent considerable money on a lawyer, they said.

“This is all very, very surreal,” Dykes said.

The hemp industry has now progressed in Wyoming, and a number of people around him are growing the crop, he said. “How many more people are growing right now whose neighbor is going to call the police?” he said.

Wyoming Introduces Legislation to Regulate Cannabis

Does House Bill 0209 have a fighting chance in Wyoming’s state Congress?

Wyoming just introduced legislation that could bring a legal cannabis industry to the predominantly conservative state.

The bill, known as House Bill 0209, was introduced by Representative Mike Yin and also backed by 13 other state lawmakers. The bill was assigned to the state House just this week. If the bill becomes a law, then the sale, purchase, possession, and cultivation of cannabis will become regulated and legal. Those over the age of 21 can have up to three ounces of flower, 16 ounces of cannabis product, 72 ounces of liquid product, and up to 30 grams of concentrate.

Those who prefer home grows to shopping would also have the legal option to cultivate up to 12 flowering, female plants at home, which could yield them up to 16 ounces of cannabis, “provided that any amount more than two and one half (2 1/2) ounces shall be stored in a container or area with locks or other security devices that restrict access to the container or area”

HB0209 will also lay out how cannabis should be tested and taxed, as well as the licenses for the state. It will also outline what the penalties will be for those using or possessing cannabis outside of the law. Existing laws will need to be revised so that they are no longer punishing cannabis users.

“To ensure that no retail marijuana grown or processed by a marijuana establishment is sold or otherwise transferred except by a retail marijuana store or as otherwise authorized by law, the board shall develop and maintain a seed-to-sale tracking system that tracks retail marijuana from either the seed or immature plant stage until the retail marijuana or retail marijuana product is sold to a customer at a retail marijuana store,” the bill explains.

The Potential of HB0209

This could be very exciting for the state of Wyoming, as it could bring in as much as $30.7 million per year to a fund for schools, $15.35 million to a local fund, and $3.1 million for licenses. This money would be very welcome during a time when everyone is hurting thanks to COVID shutdowns. The bill projects that licensing fees will fall after the first year, but the revenue will keep coming in. They are basing these projections on their nearby, and very cannabis-friendly, neighbors in Colorado.

Additionally, the state will be able to bank on around $49.5 million in retail cannabis revenue for just the first year if cannabis becomes legal in 2022. This would be a major win for the local economy.

“A well-funded educational system is a source of pride and economic opportunity for our state. It is essential for our families and our children just as low taxes are,” Governor Gordon stated regarding the budget crisis and what needs to be done in Wyoming. “Our circumstances require that we evaluate all school spending and consider its importance to our state’s future. These are dollars that go into local economies too. I appreciate the Legislature’s Recalibration Committee’s hard work on this topic and look forward to their proposals.”

Wyoming Marijuana Legalization Bill Sponsored By Top Republicans Expected To Get Hearing This Week

The cannabis legalization measure is sponsored by the House speaker, Judiciary Committee chairman and other GOP lawmakers.

By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., WyoFile.com

Supporters of a sweeping bill to legalize and regulate marijuana anticipate a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, where they hope to dispel myths and stereotypes held by resistant lawmakers.

Twelve representatives and two senators co-sponsored House Bill 209—Regulation of marijuana, which would license the cultivation and sale of marijuana and tax cannabis products, including edibles and infused drinks. Chief sponsor Rep. Jared Olsen (R-Cheyenne), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, brought the bill only months after a majority of state residents said they support allowing adults to use marijuana without penalty.

The bill would impose a 30 percent levy on marijuana sales and generate about $47 million a year in taxes, a state analysis of the measure says. Two thirds of the tax revenue generated annually—$30.7 million—would go to the school foundation fund. The other third—$15.35 million a year—would go to the local government of the jurisdiction in which the sales took place.

The bill would license marijuana establishments that grow, test, manufacture, transport or sell marijuana. A microbusiness license would allow its holder to both grow and sell marijuana but have no more than 150 pot plants.

Wyoming lawmakers have long resisted legalization of marijuana, but the people they represent last year showed a change of heart. Since 2014, when only 37 percent of residents supported allowing adults to possess marijuana for personal use, attitudes have shifted. By December last year more than half the state—54 percent—were behind legal adult use.

“It’s time,” Sen. Cale Case (R-Lander) said.

“I’m pretty conservative, but also a strong libertarian,” Case said. “I’ve decided Rep. Olsen has really done his homework and I’m going to support him. I want it to get serious attention.”

Revenue for schools​

Tax and fee revenue projections are based on Department of Agriculture estimates of 100 cultivation facilities, 50 for manufacturing, 25 for transport, five for testing plus 200 retail stores and 50 microbusinesses.

The bill would allow any adult resident to grow limited amounts of pot and consume it, but not in public.

The Department of Agriculture would oversee much of marijuana administration, according to the proposed legislation. It would adopt rules for licenses allowing use of retail marijuana at special events “in limited areas for a limited time.”

Cities, towns and counties could issue licenses for establishments and limit their number. Local governments also could prohibit marijuana establishments if 10 percent of registered voters petition for a ban.

Towns and counties could not prohibit the transport of marijuana through their jurisdictions. Numerous other provisions would prohibit establishments near schools and such.

Sponsors hope the hearing will set parameters for debate, amendments and adoption.

“I’m not under a lot of illusions it’s going to pass,” Case said of the “pretty comprehensive regulatory package.” Olsen’s bill, however, “may be the most serious framework anybody has done” in Wyoming regarding marijuana legalization and regulation.

Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne), another co-sponsor, was similarly tempered in his expectations. “Unfortunately, I have no higher belief that this bill will become law than [in] any other year,” he said.

“We have far too many in our Legislature that choose to continue to do business the old-fashioned way,” he said. “Our body refuses to acknowledge the changing world and admit that change is coming whether we like it or not.”

The hearing could open the door for deep consideration of the measure, education and advocacy, plus the dismissal of stereotypes and long-held misinformation, supporters said.

“The bill has no chance of getting through the entire process in the next four weeks,” Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) wrote in an email. “I believe it will be used as a starting place for a year-long conversation on understanding the issue, the funding structures, and how Wyoming could regulate [marijuana] within our borders.”

Rep. Mark Baker (R-Green River), another co-sponsor, is not willing to count the legislation out this year. After a fair hearing in Olsen’s committee, “we’ll have to see what happens after that,” he said.

How much would it generate?​

The Legislative Service Office based its revenue estimates on the FY 2020 marijuana sales in Colorado, adjusted for the population of Wyoming. Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne) thinks they’re overblown.

“It is a concern to me that the development and growth of government needed to implement this law would likely barely break even in my books,” he wrote. “The increase in local permitting and oversight of a substance similar to alcohol and tobacco is new and foreign to us as a state.

ut I also believe the people of Wyoming have spoken for long enough about this issue and I believe it’s time to hear them and act.”

People shouldn’t solely focus on the revenue side of the legislation, co-sponsor Baker said. “The taxes are just a small portion of it,” he said.

Not criminalizing citizens, saving court expenses, allowing residents local access to something they’re going to get anyway “would be very attractive—above and beyond any revenue,” he said. “We need to take [marijuana] out of the unregulated market and into the regulated market.

“There has been a stigma associated with the cannabis conversation—people are apprehensive about contacting their legislator,” Baker said. “It’s important to let their legislators’ know they’re not Cheech and Chong.

Baker has personal testimony. He suffered digestive disorders that required three surgeries and nine transfusions, but found a way to endure in medical marijuana. “My life is much more comfortable with cannabis than without it,” he said.

In addition to Brown, Baker, Olsen, Zwonitzer and Case, co-sponsors are Speaker of the House Eric Barlow (R-Gillette), Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) and Reps. Michael Yin, (D-Jackson), Cyrus Western (R-Big Horn), Pat Sweeney (R-Casper), John Romero-Martinez (R-Cheyenne), Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie), Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) and Marshall Burt (L-Green River).

Pro-legalization lobbyist Christine Stenquist acknowledges that Olsen’s measure takes a stride beyond the usual decriminalization approach, which is to start with a baby-step of medical authorization.

“It definitely has an adult-use feel,” she said of the measure. “It’s a retail bill.

“Conservative types are upset, to say the least,” she said. “They don’t want Colorado,” she said, referring to legalization and its impacts there. Criticism will envision all sorts of woes, including invasion of the Equality State by homeless potheads and other undesirables, she predicted.

“I understand their fears,” she said of lawmakers. “I’m hoping to address those in committee.”

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.
30% levy............lolz.
Wanna get something passed tell a politician there's money in it.
The same Republican party will refuse to enact the will of the voters like they did here in Montana.
Sure recreational passed but they refused to fund the infrastructure and won't even discuss funding until 2023.
So again it is left cheek,right cheek same old hole.
The longer I live the more apparent it is there is no actual difference.
Fuck me.............some more please.

Wyoming Attorney General Issues Ballot Summaries For Marijuana Initiatives

Wyoming’s attorney general on Monday issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession. Activists are now officially set for signature collection to qualify.

Earlier this month, advocates turned in the requisite 100 initial sponsorship signatures for each measure to the secretary of state. That office then verified them, and the initiatives were submitted to the attorney general for summary language and petition packets.

Now the campaign, which is being backed by the national Libertarian Party and Wyoming NORML, will turn its attention to gathering 41,776 valid signatures from registered voters per measure to qualify for the ballot. To make the November 2022 ballot, they must turn in enough signatures by February of next year. Otherwise, they will have until January 2023 to qualify for a subsequent election.

Here’s the summary language that the attorney general’s office approved, according to Wyoming NORML:

Wyoming Patient Cannabis Act of 2022

“Shall a law be enacted authorizing the Wyoming Liquor Division to regulate the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana for medical treatment?”

Wyoming Cannabis Amendments

“Shall a law be enacted to reduce criminal penalties for the cultivation, possession, use, and transfer of marijuana?”

Wyoming NORML Executive Director Bennett Sondeno told Marijuana Moment that the group is “excited to be working with our friends in the state and activists from across the country to bring these questions before Wyoming voters in 2022.”

“We will have signing events around the state as soon as the secretary of state hands us the petitions,” he said, adding that those petitions are expected to be in hand by early September.

This ballot effort launched after state lawmakers advanced—but failed to pass—a bill to legalize marijuana this session.

For the medical proposal, patients would be able to purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower and 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products” in a 30-day period.

People with any of more than a dozen qualifying conditions—including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia—would also be able to cultivate up to eight mature plants for personal use.

The Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division would be responsible for licensing marijuana businesses. The division would be required to promulgate rules by July 1, 2023.

The division “shall regulate the acquisition, growth, cultivation, extraction, production, processing, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail sales, licensing, transportation and taxation of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-derived products and the operation of medical marijuana establishments in a manor that will not prove excessively burdensome for Patients to access medical marijuana or medical marijuana-derived products nor burdensome for licensed healthcare providers to certify their Patients,” the text of the measure states.

Meanwhile, activists’ separate decriminalization measure would impose small fines on people possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, without the threat of jail time. A first and second offense would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine, while a third and any subsequent offense would penalized by a $75 fine. Cultivating marijuana would be punishable by a maximum $200 fine.

People caught in possession of marijuana in excess of the four ounce limit would face a maximum $500 fine. Those who are found to be under the influence of cannabis could be fined $50.

A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Wyoming advanced out of a House committee in March, but it did not move further in the legislature by the end of the session.

A poll released in December found that 54 percent of state residents support allowing “adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use.” Presumably, that would mean that the more moderate proposals stand to pass if they’re certified for the ballot.

Wyoming’s neighbors Montana and South Dakota were among several states that approved marijuana legalization ballot measures in November.

Meanwhile, the Wyoming legalization legislation, which was backed by the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, would have allowed adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 mature plants for personal use.

The measure was also cosponsored by the House speaker and other top GOP lawmakers.

Looking ahead to 2022, Wyoming isn’t the only state where voters could soon see cannabis reform on the ballot. Activists in roughly a dozen states are moving to put cannabis legalization proposals directly before voters in 2022.

Advocates in Oklahoma are preparing two complementary ballot initiatives, one that would legalize adult-use cannabis and another that would make changes to the state’s massive medical marijuana system.

Idaho officials have recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. Advocates in the state are also working to qualify a separate measure to legalize medical cannabis for ballot access.

In South Dakota, activists recently filed four separate cannabis ballot measures for 2022.

North Dakota activists are formulating plans for a marijuana legalization measure after lawmakers failed to enact the reform this session.

A group of Missouri marijuana activists recently filed several separate initiatives to put marijuana reform on the state’s 2022 ballot, a move that comes as other advocacy groups are preparing additional efforts to collect signatures for cannabis ballot petitions of their own. Meanwhile, still other activists are focusing on getting the legislature to pass a resolution to place the question of legalization before voters next year.

Arkansas activists are currently collecting signatures for a marijuana legalization measure they want to put before voters next November.

In Maryland, the House speaker has pledged to pass legislation to place a marijuana legalization referendum on the 2022 ballot.

Ohio activists awaiting official clearance to collect signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would effectively force the legislature to consider cannabis reform. Meanwhile, other groups also recently qualified several measure to decriminalize cannabis to appear on local 2021 ballots.

Nebraska marijuana activists are gearing up for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot after the legislature failed to pass a bill to enact the reform this session. And since the state Supreme Court invalidated a measure that qualified for the 2020 ballot based on a statutory challenge, voters can expect to see two complementary initiatives that are currently being vetted by lawyers to ensure that opponents can’t leverage the legal system to block the policy change again.

A newly established Texas progressive group unveiled a campaign recently to put an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession and ban no-knock warrants on this November’s ballot in Austin.

Advocates are also working to put marijuana initiatives on local ballots in South Carolina and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court has blocked two cannabis legalization initiatives for which activists had already collected thousands of signatures.

Wyoming Legislators Introduce Cannabis Decriminalization Bill

A new bill in Wyoming plans to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.

House Bill 0106 was introduced to the Wyoming legislature to potentially decriminalize small amounts of cannabis and reduce possession fines, if passed.

HB-0106 was filed by Representative Mark Baker on February 15, in addition to 11 co-sponsors, which includes House Speaker Eric Barlow and House Majority Whip Jared Olsen.

According to the current bill text, if passed, cannabis in solid form, such as edibles, ointments, and tinctures would receive new possession limitations. Liquid-form cannabis products would be limited to 72 ounces, and concentrated cannabis would be set at a maximum of 30 grams. The bill would also create “a civil penalty for possessing specified amounts of marijuana and eliminating criminal penalties for possessing specified amounts of marijuana, eliminating use of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia as crimes; eliminating the prohibition on practitioners prescribing marijuana; amending definitions; making conforming amendments; repealing a provision; and providing for an effective date,” the bill states.

In the 2021 legislative session, two legalization bills failed to pass. One was passed by the Judiciary Committee, which was led by Olsen in the role of chairman. “With my opening remarks, I would pose this question to the committee, which is simply: is Wyoming ready to legalize marijuana?” said Olsen. “That’s the question in front of this committee, that’s the topic that this legislature has not heard for over four years now, so I think this marks an important moment in Wyoming, where we are now discussing a topic that we’ve all avoided for many years.” Unfortunately, the bill stalled in March 2021.

Aside for the legislative effort to decriminalize cannabis in Wyoming, signatures are currently being gathered by advocates for two ballot initiatives to legalize; one aimed at decriminalizing cannabis, and another striving for medical cannabis legalization. Both initiatives are managed by NORML Wyoming and the national Libertarian Party, which has been actively collecting signatures and is holding a Wyoming NORML Lobby Day 2022 on February 24. The organization did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot deadline for 2022, but have since set their sights on 2024 as a new goal.

In response to a comment on Facebook regarding the 2024 delay, NORML Wyoming shared promising information about the effort. “We don’t yet have the signatures needed. We should wrap collections by the end of summer,” the organization posted. “We already have more than we got after the full 18 months last time! We are introducing both Initiatives as bills during the intervening legislative sessions, so we may see even faster action.” NORML Wyoming’s approach to decriminalization would make the first and second offenders pay a $50 fee, and other offenses would result in a $75 fine. The medical cannabis legalization initiative, currently referred to as the Wyoming Medical Marijuana Initiative (2024), would allow patients who suffer from a variety of medical conditions, such as “multiple sclerosis, ALS, AIDS, cancer, seizures, Alzheimer’s/dementia, PTSD, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, nausea/wasting, muscle spasticity, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and more,” to cultivate their own cannabis at home.

Chief Strategist of the national Libertarian Party, Apollo Pazell, confirmed that it would be ideal for legislators to take on the responsibility of crafting reliable cannabis bills. “We would prefer a legislative process,” he told the Casper Star Tribune. However, he also noted the challenge of opposition fundamentalist legislators. “The fundamentalist candidates have consistently taken a position against cannabis,” Pazell said. “[There are] many more fundamentalist legislators in there now than there used to be.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a little over half of the states in the US have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis. Residents in Wyoming are in support of cannabis. In a survey from 2020, conducted by the University of Wyoming, an estimated 54 percent of residents “support allowing adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use. This continues the steady increase in support observed from 2014, 2016, and 2018, when support rose from 37 percent to 41 percent to 49 percent, respectively.”

Wyoming Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Won’t Get A Vote This Session, Sponsor Says

“Everyone is looking for the Congress and the president to do something.”

By David Beasley, The Center Square

A proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana won’t come up for a vote this legislative session, according to the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation was initially filed last month, Marijuana Moment reported. But state Rep. Mark Baker, R-Rock Springs, told The Center Square that there simply isn’t time to take up the bill in a shortened session devoted to the budget.

“The way Wyoming works, we budget biannually, a two-year budget,” he said. “This year, we have a budget session and it’s only 20 days long. We also have redistricting bill. Anything is not budget or redistricting requires a two-thirds vote because of the timeframe.”

Legislators were given the opportunity to bring only one bill forward this session, Baker noted.

“I chose to not bring that bill [marijuana legislation] forward,” Baker said. “I chose to bring another bill forward.”

The legislation would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation with a $100 fine, rather than a misdemeanor which carries a potential of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, Baker said.

With the bill off the table for this year, the emphasis is on creating a study committee that would explore the costs and potential tax revenue from legalizing the sale of marijuana, the lawmaker said.

According to previous estimates, Wyoming could gain $30 million a year in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales.

“Next year will be a 40-day general session of the legislature,” Baker said.

However, another stumbling block is that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, he added.

“In Wyoming, there doesn’t appear to be an appetite to challenge the federal government on this issue,” Baker said. “Everyone is looking for the Congress and the president to do something. We could expect a vote in Wyoming to be successful only after the federal government does something.”

This story was first published by The Center Square.

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