Medical Marijuana Bills Die in the House
Proposed bills that would have paved the path for legalizing medical marijuana in Wyoming died after the House failed to consider them for introduction Monday.
The Medical Cannabis Act, House Bill 278, sponsored by Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, would have legalized medical marijuana in Wyoming.
The act would have allowed for Wyoming residents, 18 years of age and older, to apply for and receive a medical marijuana card, provided they had a doctor’s recommendation.
Additionally, the act would have allowed the cultivation, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana by licensed producers, as long as the THC content remained between 3 and 15 percent.
House Bill 258, sponsored by Rep. Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne, would have provided an implementation report with the goal of providing a timeline for legalizing medical marijuana.
The report would have outlined what medical conditions reportedly benefit from the use of marijuana and how the state could regulate medical marijuana prescriptions.
Recommendations on how to prevent wrongfully obtained prescriptions and misuse of medical marijuana would have also been provided in the report.
But now, by not considering either bill for introduction, legislators have done away with the last of the marijuana-geared legislation that had been submitted in the 2019 legislative session.
The move mirrors action taken against House Bill 234, marijuana reform sponsored by Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, which sought to significantly reduce the penalties for individuals convicted of marijuana-related felonies.
Unlike HB278 and HB258, HB234 had made it past introduction but was quickly referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The measure failed to make it out of committee prior to the cutoff date for consideration by Committee of the Whole and ultimately failed.
The fate of the recent three marijuana-geared bills falls in line with the long-standing pattern for attempts to change the marijuana policies in the Cowboy State, all of which have now failed.
In 2015, Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, attempted to lessen the penalties for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana. That legislation died in the House 38 to 22.
The following year, a ballot initiative that would have allowed for the use of medical marijuana for residents over 21 failed to get enough signatures.
Signatures proved to be a problem for another ballot initiative that same year, with marijuana supporters attempting to legalize the sale, use, and cultivation of marijuana through the Wyoming Liquor Division.
In 2017, yet another bill that would have reduced the penalties for first-time offenders caught with less than three ounces of marijuana in their possession failed.
The bill would have reduced the penalties down to a $200 fine and 20 days in jail. Currently, possessing three ounces of marijuana or less carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
County 17 reported last year that the measure had failed as a result of interference from the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP).
Nate Martin, director of Better Wyoming, a politically progressive advocacy group, had stated that WASCOP was responsible for so many changes to the bill that time ran out and supporters reportedly lost interest.
Martin stated that WASCOP was comprised of a group of lobbyists, who promoted opposition to marijuana law reform in the state through their ongoing “No Debate” campaign.
Martin’s claims were referred to as “inflammatory and inaccurate” by Byron Oedekoven, WASCOP executive director, who had been Campbell County Sheriff from 1987 to 2004.
Quite the contrary, Oedekoven had said, WASCOP’s role was an advisory one, and the group did not lobby.