Wyoming’s Secretary of State conditionally certified two ballot initiatives covering medical marijuana and cannabis decriminalization, reports Oil City News.
Casper City Council member Shawn Johnson said that with the conditional approval, the ballot initiatives move into signature gathering. Johnson is working with the National Libertarian Party to support the initiatives. Activists aim to gain enough signatures to put the ballot initiative questions on the 2022 General Election ballot in Wyoming.
Secretary of State Ed Buchanan’s conditional approval allows activists to enter the next phase. Advocates can now gather 100 signatures per initiative in order to advance to the next step, reports Marijuana Moment.
Campaign Supported By Libertarian Party, Wyoming NORML
Johnson expressed confidence that the signature drive, with Libertarian backing, will be successful. He predicted Wyoming voters will see the ballot questions appear on their ballots. Johnson added this will give voters the chance to decide for themselves on some marijuana-related issues.
In order to get the questions on the ballot, the initiatives will need to collect 41,776 signatues. That’s “equal to 15% of those who voted in the preceding general election” in the state, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.
The campaign, also supported by Wyoming NORML, came after lawmakers didn’t pass a bill to legalize Cannabis this session. The bill did advance through the legislative process before failing.
“The Libertarians are super organized and motivated,” said Bennett Sondeno, treasurer of Wyoming NORML, reports the Casper Star Tribune. “They will provide the professional boots on the ground that we lacked the last time that we ran a petition.”
Medical Marijuana Initiative Covers 4 Oz., 12 Plants
In the medical marijuana proposal, patients can purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower in a 30-day period. They can also buy and possess 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products.”
People with any of more than a dozen qualifying conditions—including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia— can access Cannabis. They would also be able to cultivate up to eight mature plants for personal use.
Under the medical Cannabis initiative, the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division would be responsible for licensing marijuana businesses. The division would have to come up with rules by July 1, 2023.
Decrim Initiative Covers Cultivation
Under the decrim measure, people would be fined for possessing up to four ounces of marijuana. This change would remove the threat of jail time. First and second offenses would be misdemeanors. Each of those would be punishable by a $50 fine. A third and any subsequent offense would penalized by a $75 fine. Cultivating marijuana would be punishable by a maximum $200 fine.
People caught in possession of Cannabis over the four-ounce limit would face a maximum $500 fine. Those under the influence of cannabis would face potential $50 fines.
Activists went back and forth with state officials on finalizing language for the ballot measures. They submitted three rounds of drafts before landing on the latest versions. After conditional approval, the campaign must now gather an initial 100 valid signatures on each initiative. They’ll have 30 days to do in order to proceed to the next step.
Wyoming Residents Support Both Initiatives
An overwhelming 85 percent of Wyoming residents support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a 2020 poll. That poll was taken by the University of Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) in October 2020. Three out of every four — 75% — support decriminalizing marijuana in Wyoming, and 54% are in favor of full adult-use legalization.
Wyoming recently ranked as the most Cannabis-curious state in the Union, as measured by Google searches.
Wyoming State Rep. Marshall Burt of Sweetwater County and national Libertarian Party officials submitted the initiatives. And they plan to back them up logistically. Leaders said they intend to keep full-time teams on the ground in Wyoming for the next 18 months.
The Libertarian Party in June launched their Se+ America Free campaign. At that time, they announced the campaign “champions much needed reform to the healthcare industry and the criminal justice system around cannabis.”