Posted at 10:30 a.m., March 8, 2016

Legislature says no to marijuana

Bills denied in house

During the current Wyoming legislative session three marijuana bills failed to pass the two-thirds vote required for introduction, one of which was medical marijuana related. The first of the bills, HB 3, Sponsored by Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, would have changed the penalties for marijuana possession, making the punishments themselves more lenient and the punishable amounts higher. However, the bill failed to make the two-thirds vote to be introduced.

The second bill proposed by Byrd was HB 7, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Gerald Gay, R-Casper, and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, also did not make the two-thirds introductory vote. This bill would have allowed people with medical marijuana prescriptions from other states to be in possession of marijuana, pursuant to the terms of the prescription, in Wyoming as long as said individual was a resident of the prescribing state.

“Bringing any bill in a budget session is problematic because of the two-thirds introduction threshold,” Byrd said. That being said, the conversation needs to continue on these two topics, that is mainly why they were submitted for introduction.”
Byrd also went on to say he will be re-introducing them if he is re-elected in the 2016 election.

Medical Marijuana

Lindholm deferred to Byrd for comments on the two bills not being introduced, but Gay was very vocal on more than one point.
“Many people are uneducated about the therapeutic properties of medical marijuana and they are afraid to vote in favor of the substance,” Gay said. “Most people don’t make the distinction between medical marijuana, which is based on Cannabidiol, and intoxicating marijuana, which is Tetrahydrocannabinol based. They are two completely different substances.”

Gay is a strong proponent of having Cannabidiol based marijuana replace opioid painkillers like hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, Percocet and Vicodin because of their very addictive nature. Gay’s final statement on the issue was “People can legally possess this material in neighboring states. Wyoming has to deal with criminals who are doing something perfectly legal in one state, but by simply crossing the Wyoming border they make themselves criminals—putting a burden on Wyoming’s penal system.”

The third bill, HB 37, sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee, would have set a threshold for punishment of individuals caught with edibles or otherwise consumable marijuana products to “no more than one (1) pound,” but it also failed to receive the two-thirds vote required. However, on Tuesday Feb. 23 the Senate voted to approve the third reading of Senate File, 96 which clarifies the status of THC edibles. As currently amended SF 96 makes it a felony to possess more than three ounces of edible goods that contain marijuana or its active compound, THC.

Voting

The current wording does not take into account the actual amount of THC in the product. Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, proposed an amendment that would make the punishment based off of THC content instead of weight. Rothfuss proposed threshold would have drawn the line at 15 grams of THC but the amendment was voted down 19-11. Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, also introduced a previously rejected amendment that would have allowed anyone accused of possession a chance in court to prove the total amount of marijuana or THC in their edibles is not more than that found in a misdemeanor amount of leaf marijuana, his amendment was also voted down, 21-9.

Feb. 29 was the last day for bills to go through first reading on the House floor and SF 96, along with a number of other bills, did not make it onto the floor.

Gay also brought up another, possibly more important point involving the need for CBD painkillers, saying, “Many people who become opioid addicts turn to heroin as a cheap powerful alternative to prescription opioids.” He also went on to say “Legalization of CBD will make available an effective medicine which is not an intoxicant, is not addictive, and cannot be used to the point of overdose. CBD can back out heroin abuse.”

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