Could one of America’s most conservative states legalize medical marijuana?
In Wyoming, where possession of 3 ounces or more of marijuana is considered a felony worthy of a five-year prison term, a Republican lawmaker said this week she will propose a bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Sue Wallis (R-Recluse) plans to introduce the measure next year.
The announcement coincides with Wyoming’s NORML chapter kicking off a petition drive to legalize recreational and medical marijuana in 2016. The group will submit its paperwork to the state this week, which will allow NORML representatives to collect signatures to bring a ballot issue on marijuana before voters four years from now. The group must collect 70,000 signatures to force the measure.
Both Wallis and NORML face an uphill battle in Wyoming, a longstanding red state. Although neighboring states Colorado and Montana have legalized medical marijuana, Wyoming has remained skeptical of the plant’s medical value.
State Sen. Larry Hicks, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers are going to scrutinize the bill because of the “history of abuse of the medical marijuana in some surrounding states.”
But the fact that surrounding states have medical marijuana laws actually helped convince Wallis to propose the measure in the first place.
Her motivation came from her dying husband, who she said benefited from using medical marijuana obtained in Colorado before his death. Wallis said she recently toured medical marijuana facilities in Colorado, which helped convince her to propose the bill.