Wyoming lawmakers push to increase penalties for possessing marijuana edibles
A panel of Wyoming lawmakers is backing a bill that would make it a felony to possess a pound or more of marijuana-laced edibles as the state grapples with the legalization of recreational pot for adults by neighboring Colorado.
The draft bill that passed the Wyoming legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in a 7-6 vote would also make it a misdemeanor to possess such items as pot-infused brownies, candy and other goodies weighing less than a pound.
The proposal, to be introduced in the Wyoming legislature at a budget session in February, was crafted in response to the dismissal by at least two state judges of cases tied to pot edibles, said state Senator Michael Von Flatern, a committee member.
The judges found that while state law makes it a felony to have three ounces of the leafy form of pot, it does not specifically criminalize marijuana-laced edibles.
It is the latest response by Wyoming lawmakers to challenges they say stem from Colorado’s legalization of recreational pot for adults, some of whom carry weed to Wyoming, particularly in the southeast corner where an interstate highway connects the capital of Cheyenne to Denver.
“We’re dealing with a new reality and trying to adapt laws to what we see happening,” said Von Flatern. The Republican from Gillette voted in favor of the measure.
Von Flatern said the committee was divided over how one could measure the concentration of the psychoactive component in marijuana, THC, in edible products.
Concerns were raised, he said, over whether someone caught with a pot brownie or cake weighing more than one pound could potentially possess an item with less THC than a person found with candy that could weigh less but be more potent.
“We realize it’s somewhat arbitrary, but we needed to take a stab at it,” the state senator said.
Wyoming is not the only conservative state to complain of fall-out from approval by Colorado voters in 2012 of a ballot measure allowing recreational pot.
Neighboring Nebraska and Oklahoma challenged Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws in the U.S. Supreme Court in December amid complaints its pot was seeping across their borders. Colorado has vowed to defend its laws.
In May, the top U.S. court asked President Barack Obama’s administration for its views on the lawsuit.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)