Legislatures in Wyoming have proposed tough marijuana laws specifically addressing edibles due to the flood of cannabis-infused edibles spilling into the state from Colorado. Marijuana is illegal in Wyoming but quite legal in the neighboring state of Colorado.
Current law considers possession of more than 3 ounces of cannabis flowers a felony, carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years. Two bills are being proposed to establish more specific marijuana laws by the legislatures. One bill decriminalizes marijuana by giving first- and second-time offenders less time for felony marijuana possession. The second bill would keep 3 ounces of cannabis flowers a felony while adding possession of 36 ounces of liquid marijuana to the list of felony offenses.
Police Chief of Laramie, Dale Stalder, says that someone in possession of more than 3 ounces is selling the drug and not using it for personal use. But 3 ounces of raw marijuana flower is much less when it is combined with flour or water to make cannabis-infused edibles and drinks. Rep. Charles Pelkey (D) argued that the proposal would make felons out of people who only have a few cannabis-infused drinks in their possession in Wyoming, calling it a fundamental problem. Pelkey also says that the lawmakers have wasted far too much time debating the issue and it’s past time to decriminalize marijuana in the state.
State Attorney General Says Proposal Addresses Safety
Wyoming Attorney General John Knepper says that the strict proposal reflects the dangers attributed to marijuana edibles by law enforcement officials in the state. The tough stance is because law enforcement sees dangers with edibles. People frequently eat more than the recommended dose and experience extreme psychological effects which cause them to go to the emergency room. Attorney General Knepper added that by using an indulgent ingredient like chocolate to make edibles, the cannabis industry tapped into an effective way to market marijuana-laced treats that are also unsafe for the consumer.
A defense attorney in Laramie, Mr. Cole Sherard, says that he worries that numerous felony arrests will occur as a result of a new law for possession of minimal amounts of weed, saying that the new laws should be based on levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. He added that there is plenty of existing research that lawmakers could use to educate themselves about the amount of THC in edibles that would enable them to establish fair regulations.
Selling a Dime Could Get You a Dime Up the River
Wyoming is famous for its harsh marijuana laws. Even possession of marijuana paraphernalia in the state could get you 6 months in jail, the same penalty as cultivating marijuana, and a $750 fine. Selling any amount of marijuana in the state is a felony that could earn you a 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Lawmakers in the state have sought to change the laws since 2015 after two judges made rulings that there is no penalty specific to cannabis-infused edibles and dismissed the cases. The Legislative Joint Judiciary Committee in Thermopolis proposed bills amending current marijuana laws to include specifications on edibles in 2016 and in 2017, failing both times to get legislation passed.
Testing THC in Edibles Poses Challenges
Laboratory crime experts say that analyzing THC in edibles is difficult and that the equipment is expensive. They also say measuring the THC in flour, cocoa, and sugar poses challenges in separating the THC from each ingredient.
Legislatures also disagree on the amounts of cannabis-infused edibles that should qualify as a felony. Some legislatures proposed a couple of ounces, with others saying that a pound should constitute felony marijuana possession. The legislatures are drafting a new bill and will make another attempt to clarify marijuana laws on cannabis-infused edibles at the legislative session in February.