Wyoming lawmakers failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session. But on Friday, two measures were submitted to the state to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters on the 2022 ballot.
The Libertarian Party and state Rep. Marshall Burt (L) joined with activists to file the proposed initiatives with the secretary of state’s office.
The text of the medical cannabis proposal states that patients could purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower and 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products” in a 30-day period.
People with one 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.
Under the medical cannabis initiative, 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 also be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine.
An error in the drafting of the decriminalization initiative appears that it would result in the inadvertent removal of jail time for cultivating opium and peyote as well, but a spokesperson with the Libertarian Party told Marijuana Moment that the section will be changed as part of the state’s revision and formatting period for submitting measures over the next couple of weeks.
“Having the freedom to choose cannabis, whether for medical use or personal use, is one of the hallmarks of the Libertarian Party,” the organization said in a new site dedicated to the campaign. “We believe that individuals know best when it comes to what treatments to pursue and what medicine and products to consume. When people are empowered to make decisions for themselves and are not restricted by government prohibition, they are happier and healthier.”
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.
For the more modest medical cannabis and decriminalization proposals, petitioners will have until February 14 to collect 41,775 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot after the state approves the formatting of the measures.
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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.
Former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who now resides in Wyoming and identifies as a Libertarian, is not yet directly involved in this latest marijuana ballot push, despite having testified in support of the legalization bill that advanced in the state this year.
Laryssa Gaughen, communications director for the Libertarian National Committee, told Marijuana Moment on Thursday that he is “generally supportive of our effort,” however.
Meanwhile, the House legalization legislation, which was backed by the Republican chair of the 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.
Read the Wyoming marijuana reform initiatives being backed by the Libertarian Party below:
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.