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Marijuana Initiatives Coming To Wyoming

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signature gathering marijuana reform initiativeBy Phillip Smith

In a sign of changing times, at least two separate marijuana initiative campaigns are getting underway in Wyoming, one of the reddest of the red states. One initiative would legalize marijuana and hemp, while the other limits itself to medical marijuana.

The first initiative, sponsored by Wyoming NORML (“established 4/20/2013”), would “tax and legalize cannabis, hemp, and ALL related products and businesses in the state of Wyoming, removing all penalties for use by adults over 21 years of age within the state of Wyoming for both medical and recreational consumption.” It is aimed at the 2016 ballot.

Wyoming NORML presented its initiative petition to the secretary of state’s office Monday. Under the state’s initiative rules, the legislature has two weeks to review the application and suggest changes. If lawmakers object, organizers would have 19 days to collect 100 signatures to overrule the legislature and file the petition. Once a petition is approved for general circulation, organizers will need to come up with registered voters’ signatures equal to 15% of those who voted in the 2012 general election and 15% of the population in two-thirds of the state’s counties. That’s about 36,000 registered voters.

The thing could have a chance, said Wyoming NORML head Christine Christian.

“I think there’s a greater likelihood than people are projecting,” Christian told the Jackson Hole News and Guide. “We’re seeing more and more across the country that legislators are legalizing the medical. There are many people here that want medical marijuana. There are many people here that want hemp. There are many people here that want to use it recreationally.”

But Weed Wyoming, the folks behind the medical marijuana initiative, aren’t so sure the Cowboy State is ready for legal reefer. They announced Sunday that they are moving ahead with medical marijuana alone because they don’t think a legalization initiative can win.

“Although there is already an initiative in the pipeline for the 2016 ballot addressing marijuana law reform, its ‘whole ball of wax’ approach has no chance, as it is our experience that there is a lot of support for reform in our state, but the vast majority of that support is for medical reform and not recreational use,” the group said in a press release. “Given the consequences of failure of such an initiative, we feel it necessary to offer the people of our state an initiative that we believe brings the much-needed relief that the sick and disabled of our state badly need and actually has a good chance of succeeding.”

More than 2,000 people a year are arrested on marijuana charges in Wyoming, a state with only slightly more than half a million residents. About nine out of 10 of those arrests are for simple possession.

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Johnny Green

3 Comments

  1. Personally I say the equality state should leave hemp and cannabis up to the individual to decide. I don’t believe it is ever a good thing to have to get permission to treat a condition with cannabis or feed, fuel, or clothe your family with hemp. How much could the country benefit from fields of hemp and cannabis all over Wyoming. Think of the co2 reductions alone. Hemp is a perfect food and cannabis is a serious nontoxic medicine. If you don’t agree then don’t use it. Simple.

  2. I think you’ll find that a large number of WY residents- much of the established, traditional community- is NOT friendly to mj smoker transplants from the West Coast. Or even from CO for that matter. I’m a daily mj smoker (for 22 years and counting) and a secular political conservative (yup!) living in CA. As such, I move in contrasting and often incompatible social circles. I travel to WY monthly and have seen this attitude many times. Be aware; choose carefully.

  3. Ellyn Williams on

    My husband and I were thinking about moving to Wyoming, but backed away because of their marijuana laws. Now maybe in a few years we can make that dream a reality.

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