“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.”