A debate over whether Wyoming should legalize marijuana may be about to flare up.
Bordered to the north and south by states that have legalized some uses of marijuana, Wyoming still counts marijuana possession as a crime. Possession of anything over 3 ounces in the “Equality State” is felony territory, enough to put a person in prison for five years.
Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, told the News Record in mid-November that she intends to introduce a bill in the legislative session that starts early next year to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Wallis said the experience of her late husband, Rod McQueary, as he battled the pain caused by a horse accident, has spurred her to introduce the bill.
McQueary died Dec. 29, 2012, from the results of taking painkillers for many years. When he was hospitalized in Denver in the final weeks of his life, he tried candies with 10 milligrams of THC in them, and found instant relief.
Wallis then spent months researching marijuana and its medicinal benefits. She has found unexpected support for her proposed bill from Campbell County friends and residents. It would move marijuana from a schedule one drug in Wyoming (illegal) to a schedule five. A physician’s recommendation would create immunity for anyone found with marijuana, but it also would make it a misdemeanor if you don’t have the doctor’s slip.
The bill also would pave the way for a task force to conduct an interim study on what it would take for Wyoming to have a distribution system.
“My concern is to get it (marijuana) to the people who can use it and benefit from it,” Wallis told the News Record. “That’s where I’m coming from.”
Independently, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), is preparing to kick off a petition drive to get an initiative that would allow full legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes before state voters in 2016. The group has pressed the issue nationwide and worked on the successful decriminalization effort in Colorado.
Christine Christian of Jackson and a registered lobbyist for NORML, said Thursday that her group intends to submit final papers to the Secretary of State’s Office this week to begin the process of collecting signatures to bring a ballot issue on marijuana decriminalization to state voters in 2016.
“Legalizing cannabis across the board, for all medical, recreational, and the use of cannabis hemp, is an economically sound decision that the United States needs to make for our economy,” Christian said. She said the group intends to get more than 70,000 signatures to force the measure.
Wallis said she recently toured marijuana production and distribution facilities in Colorado. That state already allows medical marijuana and plans to allow the legal sale of the drug for recreational purposes starting Jan. 1. Of the other states bordering Wyoming, Montana also allows medical use of marijuana.
Wallis said changing attitudes toward marijuana nationally may help her convince fellow lawmakers. The coming legislative session deals primarily with budget issues and it will take a two-thirds vote to approve the introduction of her bill.
Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, serves on the House Judiciary Committee — a likely destination for Wallis’ bill if it gets enough votes for introduction.
“In general, I would probably be for the idea, but I would have to see the specifics of the bill before I could comment for sure,” Kroeker told The Associated Press this week.
Kroeker noted that a number of legitimate medicines can be harmful if they’re abused.
“And if there’s ways where marijuana properly taken can help somebody out with one of their conditions, I don’t see why the government should tell somebody they shouldn’t have that treatment option available to them,” he said.
Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he doesn’t believe Wallis’ medical marijuana bill will get enough votes for introduction.
“I think we’ll have to evaluate it,” Hicks said. “I think there’s going to be a great scrutiny, given the history of abuse of the medical marijuana in some of the surrounding states. I think that’s going to be the number one issue: how do you tighten it up? Clearly if there’s an opportunity for somebody to use it, and a true medicinal purpose, I don’t think anybody’s opposed to that for very few people. The question is how do you control it?”
This is the most idiotic proposal other than obama care that I have seen for some time. Does Rep Sue Wallis not see the problems that this drug has caused in those other states?? Maybe she just chooses to ignore that little item! If there are those that want to use the junk, let them go to those other states that have dummied down to appease the drug lobby business!
This is a wonderful and past due for Wyoming. I have never understood why we let or better yet encourage people to drink or take painkillers to ease pain.
I vote for no for everything Sue Wallis suggests.
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