Wyoming Lawmakers Want to Increase Punishment for Infused Cannabis Products

Wyoming Lawmakers Want to Increase Punishment for Infused Cannabis Products

Instead of joining the lucrative green rush, Wyoming legislators are trying to crack down on cannabis products they claim are flooding over state lines from Colorado.

by Zach Harris

Lead photo via Flickr user Egg Role

America is going to pot, but Wyoming legislators want no part of the green rush or its ever-expanding consumption methods and product lines.

According to a report from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, lawmakers in the state’s Joint Judiciary Committee voted to advance two cannabis bills to the Cowboy State’s 2018 budget session, both with the explicit goal of increasing penalties for non-plant forms of marijuana — products that legislators say have become more common since neighboring Colorado legalized weed for recreational use in 2014.

As Wyoming’s current laws stand, possessing more than three ounces of marijuana is grounds for a felony charge, but no specific regulation speaks to cannabis content in infused products like edibles, oils, and extracts.

To tighten those restrictions and reaffirm Wyoming’s anti-cannabis stance, one of the two bills pushed forward last Thursday would restructure the state’s three-ounce limit to include edibles, infused drinks, topicals, and other products — even if their THC content is far less than that of a bag of regular weed.

For example, if the first bill were to pass, possessing even a single cannabis brownie, which might contain only 10 milligrams of THC but 6 ounces of chocolate, flour, and eggs, would still be grounds for a felony charge.

The second bill, also advanced late last week, would achieve a similar goal by breaking cannabis products into specific categories, with language that would make possessing more than 36 fluid ounces of a cannabis beverage a felony, while dropping the felony weight of cannabis oils to only 3 grams.

Lawmakers advanced both bills in hopes that one of them eventually becomes law, finally ending a four-year effort to punish local residents for enjoying the fruits of Colorado’s labor.

“There’s been substantial differences between what the House wants to do and what the Senate wants to do,” State Senator Larry Hicks told the Tribune Eagle. “I think it’s important we move both bills forward with the idea that maybe we’ll actually be able to provide the courts some clarity and certainty for law enforcement with either/or of these. We’re four years into this process, so it’s incumbent on the Legislature to get something done.”

But while regulators in states with legal cannabis laws have had their own struggles trying to corral the contents and labeling of infused and extracted products, Colorado, California, and the rest of the green rushers have all set up entire departments for oversight and testing protocols.

By trying to sort out increasingly advanced cannabis products without the same regulatory tools used in legal weed states, Wyoming is setting itself up to not only unnecessarily persecute its residents, but also drive away citizens with liberal views on the sweet leaf.

Even after both cannabis bills passed Wyoming’s Joint Judiciary Committee, some legislators are still skeptical.

“I think we’re still at an impasse,” said Representative Charles Pelkey to the Tribune Eagle. “We spent a lot of time on this in the last four years, and it’s not like today had a magic solution. The bottom line is we’re still turning Wyoming citizens into felons for relatively minor amounts of a drug that 20 miles south of Cheyenne is totally legal.”

If Wyoming lawmakers are serious about regulating residents’ cannabis use, they would be smart to legalize the plant. Until then, no matter how much legislation is passed, Cowboy State cops will continue in the same futile game of cat-and-mouse they’ve been playing for decades.

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.



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