|Wyoming state capitol.|
Wyoming NORML director Christine Christian filed an application with the Wyoming secretary of state’s office Monday for a marijuana legalization proposal, taking the first step on a long road towards increased cannabis freedom in the Equality State.
Lawmakers now have 14 days to look over the proposal. They can approve it outright, suggest changes or deny it altogether.
According to Wyoming statutes, lawmakers must approve the measure before it can be put on the ballot before voters in 2016. If they shoot it down in the next two weeks, supporters still have a chance to get it on the ballot by collecting 100 signatures within 19 days to overrule the legislature. If that happens, supporters would then need to collect enough signatures to equal 15 percent of all voters in the last general election as well as 15 percent of the population in two-thirds of Wyoming counties, according to the Jackson Hole Daily.
Despite Wyoming’s red state persona, Christian says she has high hopes.
“I think there’s a greater likelihood [of success]than people are projecting,” Christian told the Daily. She also pointed to an online poll showing 96 percent support for her measure. “We’re seeing more and more across the country that legislators are legalizing the medical [use],” Christian said. “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.”
A second group, Weed Wyoming, plans to introduce a measure strictly legalizing medical cannabis. Under Weed Wyoming’s proposal, Wyoming patients would be able to grow up to ten marijuana plants at a time and possess up to ten ounces of usable cannabis.
“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,” James Lake, Weed Wyoming president, wrote 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.”
Possession of less than three ounces is a misdemeanor charge in Wyoming with a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. More than three ounces is a felony with up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines. Cultivation of any amount is a misdemeanor mostly used as a sentence-enhancer in conjunction with possession charges. It carries an additional six months and $1,000 in fines.