When it comes to marijuana legalization, many states are starting to at least attempt to take the issue up through legislature. In Wyoming, we’ve already seen the introduction (and quick end) of a bill that aimed to decriminalize possession of cannabis statewide, as well as a bill that would lower penalties for some marijuana charges, while making others felony offenses. Luckily, another alternative has just been introduced by Representative James Byrd and Representative Mark Baker.
Instead of attempting to pass a bill that would have to gain the support of the Governor if it managed to pass, they are introducing a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment that would be subject to the voters’ decision on the issue. In this case, the bill would require 3/5 of the vote in both the House and the Senate in order to be presented to the voters as a constitutional amendment on the ballot in the next election – which, in this case, would be the midterm election in November of 2018.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
If the voters chose to pass this amendment, then it would add a new section to the state’s constitution that would specifically address the legalization of cannabis. The bill aims to allow possession and use of up to 3 ounces of the plant or 500 milligrams of extracted cannabis and the home cultivation of up to 6 plants, with no more than 3 mature plants at one time. It would be legal only for adults 21 and older, and would leave the legislature to determine regulations surrounding the commercial cultivation and retail sale and taxation of the plant.
Even without a specific figure for the excise tax, they have already determined that the first $20 million in tax revenue will go directly to funding public schools. The support for such an amendment allowing complete legalization in the state, however, is still iffy – with around 41% of residents believing cannabis should be legal for personal use, compared to the 81% who support medicinal use of the plant.
However, with an actual amendment on the ballot, supporters could probably change a lot of minds by simply reminding people how much safer a regulated market is compared to an illegal one. Activists could also use the benefits that other states have seen (tax revenue, less arrests, dwindling illegal market, etc.) as reasons to support such an amendment. With the rate at which support for cannabis is growing around the nation, it would take some effort, but by the time this amendment could (and hopefully will) make it to the ballot, a majority of voters could decide to legalize cannabis in Wyoming.