Marijuana remains illegal in Wyoming, although an opinion poll shows that support for legalization is growing. While cannabis remains illegal, the black market is the only source for medical and adult users in the state.
In October, a man was arrested with over 60 pounds of marijuana in his Hyundai Sonata after a traffic stop on Interstate 80 between Rock Springs and Green River.
According to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Christian Alvarez of Garden City, Michigan, was stopped after:
a deputy observed him to be following dangerously close to a semi tractor-trailer rig. The deputy’s canine partner alerted him to the presence of drugs and a subsequent search of vehicle uncovered 62.73 pounds of marijuana, plus 802 individual marijuana vape cartridges, and 58.5 grams of marijuana wax in 39 individual packages.
Over the past year, Sheriff’s Office K9 teams have made nearly two dozen felony drug arrests and seized well over half a ton of marijuana, liquid marijuana, dabs (marijuana wax), heroin, and methamphetamine.
Other, similar busts involving police dogs have occurred this year. In August, the Wyoming Highway Patrol stopped a flatbed truck on Interstate 80 that was found to be carrying “1,849 pounds of marijuana,” and in September a Rawlins Police Department K-9 was used to discover what the police estimated to be “$1.2 million worth of marijuana” being transported in a U-Haul van. April saw another bust on Interstate 80, when Ngoc Thi Bich Pham, and Hung Minh Nguyen of Renton, Washington, were caught with “114 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $285,000 in their vehicle.” According to police, “Nguyen said he gets paid about $18,000 and Pham about $4,000” for transporting marijuana.
Increasing support for legalization
Support for legalization, especially of medical cannabis, is growing in Wyoming. A medical marijuana ballot initiative, however, failed to obtain enough signatures to appear on the ballot in 2018 and 2016. Nevertheless, one poll conducted in October 2015 indicated that “72 percent of Wyoming residents supported medical marijuana.” Another poll conducted in 2018 showed that 86 percent of residents supported medical legalization.
The 2018 poll, conducted by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center of the University of Wyoming, also revealed the following:
Nearly half of Wyoming residents now say they support legalization of marijuana in the state for personal use. A large majority of Wyoming residents support the legal use of marijuana in the state for medicinal use if a doctor prescribes it. Additionally, a majority of Wyoming residents continue to oppose jail time for those convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana.
The poll shows that in recent years, support for legalization has increased. In 2014, 37 percent supported adult use legalization. In 2018 that number is 49 percent. In 2014, 74 percent supported medical legalization; that number has risen to 86 percent. Similarly, the number opposing jail time for possession of small amounts has increased from 66 to 69 percent. The poll covered all of Wyoming’s counties. Possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Wyoming is sparsely populated, making it difficult to collect signatures for ballot initiatives. The medical legalization initiative failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the ballot, but with growing support for medical legalization, Wyoming’s activists may yet succeed in placing medical legalization before the voters.
What do you think? Will Wyoming’s legislature pay attention to the polls showing support for medical legalization? Leave a comment below.