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Wyoming is Taking Another Shot at Decriminalization

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Even though neighboring Colorado has had legal cannabis sales since 2014, the state of Wyoming hasn’t gotten nearly as close to legalizing the plant. Instead, the House of Representatives has shut down multiple bills aimed at marijuana reform over the past couple of years – just last year that included one bill that would have decriminalized possession of an ounce or less and another one that would have made it legal for patients with medical marijuana cards from other states to possess medical cannabis while in Wyoming.

While neither of the bills last year managed to pass in the House, lawmakers are not giving up as Rep. Mark Baker introduced House Bill 157 for the 2017 legislative session. This bill differs from past bills in that it not only sets a specific amount for marijuana flowers, but also for oils and edibles. If passed, HB 157 would make possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana flower, up to three-tenths of a gram of oil and 3 ounces (or 500 milligrams) of edibles all subject to a civil fine of up to $200.

It would give people three offenses before the civil penalty became a criminal one again, which would then be subject a punishment of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Currently, Wyoming state law makes even the smallest bag of marijuana a crime punishable with up to a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. Considering this isn’t the first attempt at getting the law pushed through there may be difficulties – especially with such specific wording when it comes to edibles, which law enforcement cannot easily test for potency in the field.

“I spoke and worked a lot with the Judiciary committee in the off-season,” Frank Latta, Director of Wyoming NORML said. “From those discussions, I knew there were several people who would support a (decriminalization) bill.”

On the bright side, the new director of the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Law, Frank Latta, seems confident in getting the discussion rolling at the very least. In the past, the Wyoming chapter of NORML has been sort of pushed away by lawmakers for things such as their logo made up of tie-dye cannabis leaves with 4:20 written on it – but with Latta they may be taken more seriously by legislature as he is a former Republican lawmaker in his 60s who has not been able to use medical cannabis even though a doctor in Montana had recommended it to him.

Hopefully we will see some progressive movement with House Bill 157 in Wyoming, who ranked sixth in the nation for marijuana possession arrests in 2016. Even if it isn’t legalization, it’s still progress.

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