Jan 8, 2015

Leave state’s marijuana laws alone, lawmaker suggests

Don’t expect to see local lawmakers leading a charge to reform the state’s marijuana laws in the upcoming session. In fact, expect the opposite.

Rep. Sam Krone, a Cody Republican and a deputy Park County prosecutor, plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit the Legislature from changing the state’s marijuana laws in the next three years.

A legal marijuana grow in Colorado is shown in December 2013. Photo by Brett Levin Photography, released under CC BY 2.0
The time between now and then would be spent studying the changes other states, including neighboring Colorado, have experienced to their revenues, general health and crime rates after legalizing the marijuana for recreational or medical purposes or by lessening the penalties for possessing the drug.

“Let’s not do anything in Wyoming (in the short term); let’s see how this is effecting other states,” Krone, an opponent of legalization, said of his philosophy.

Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, plans to sign on as a co-sponsor of Krone's bill.

“That will be a good way to calm it down,” he said last month.

It’s likely that state lawmakers will be asked to consider legalizing at least some forms of marijuana for medical purposes and/or to significantly reduce the criminal penalties for possessing the substance during the 2014 session.

Meanwhile, the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Wyoming Cannabis Activists each hope to bypass lawmakers and put forms of marijuana legalization directly in the hands of state voters as 2016 ballot initiatives, the Casper Star-Tribune recently reported.

A University of Wyoming phone survey conducted in the fall found 72 percent of state residents support allowing the use of marijuana if it’s prescribed by a doctor, while finding that only 35 percent of state residents support legalizing recreational use of the drug.

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