Wyoming marijuana reform advocates submitted two cannabis legalization proposals to the secretary of state’s office for inclusion on the 2022 ballot. One would legalize medical marijuana and the other would decriminalize adult-use possession of up to four ounces of cannabis.
The medical cannabis measure would allow qualifying patients to purchase and possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower and 20 grams of marijuana-based medical products in a 30 day period. Home cultivation of up to eight mature plants for personal use would be permitted for patients with one of over a dozen qualifying conditions, including cancer, dementia, HIV and Parkinson’s disease.
The state’s Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division would be charged with regulating and licensing medical cannabis businesses, and would have to establish all the rules governing the industry by no later than July 1, 2023. As the text of the measure reads, this would include rules for the “acquisition, growth, cultivation, extraction, production, processing, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail sales, licensing, transportation and taxation of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-derived products.”
The separate decriminalization proposal would reduce the penalties for low-level cannabis possession to a misdemeanor, without the prospect of arrest or jail time, punishable by a $50 fine for a first and second offense, rising to $75 for a third infraction. Growing marijuana at home for recreational use would also be reclassified as a misdemeanor subject to a $200 fine.
Marijuana reform activists were joined by Rep. Marshall Burt of the Libertarian Party when filing the ballot proposals with the secretary of state’s office.
“Having the freedom to choose cannabis, whether for medical use or personal use, is one of the hallmarks of the Libertarian Party,” reads a statement on the group’s campaign site. “We believe that individuals know best when it comes to what treatments to pursue and what medicine and products to consume. When people are empowered to make decisions for themselves and are not restricted by government prohibition, they are happier and healthier.”
Canvassers for the petitions now have a deadline of February 14, 2022, by which they must collect 41,775 verified signatures from registered voters for each proposal in order to qualify for the 2022 ballot.
These attempts at incremental cannabis reform in Wyoming follow an unsuccessful push to legalize and regulate marijuana sales in the state in the recently ended legislative session. After passing a House committee in March, the comprehensive legalization proposal saw no further action in the legislature.
A recent poll will give marijuana reform advocates in Wyoming hope that voters will approve the two measures should they qualify for the ballot. It found 54 percent of residents are in favor of allowing adults 21 and older to legally possess cannabis for personal use.
If successful, Wyoming would join its neighbors Montana and South Dakota in approving cannabis legalization measures through the ballot box. The governor of Montana recently signed a bill legalizing possession and sales of marijuana to put the voter-approved measure into effect, whereas in South Dakota the initiative is facing a challenge in the state’s Supreme Court in a lawsuit brought forward with the support of Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration.