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Wyoming’s war on weed

This story is part of a six-topic series addressing issues of importance to Wyoming sponsored by the Wyoming Humanities Council as part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative, a joint venture of the Pulitzer Prizes Board and the Federation of State Humanities Councils in celebration of the 2016 centennial of the Prizes — Ed.

It would be a stretch to call Gillette resident Frank Latta a druggie. He’s served in the Wyoming Legislature, run successful businesses, been the mayor of his town.

It would be hard to accomplish such a career in a tie-dye T-shirt and hanky headband behind the wheel of flower-painted VW. Yet Latta will tell you he’s a drug addict who yearns for pot — medical marijuana.

pulitzerLogoBlack122815 resizedLatta is trying to kick his addiction to clonazepam, a legal drug that he has taken for about five years to combat the effects of Multiple Sclerosis. When his symptoms improved he stopped taking the medicine cold-turkey.

That’s when the sweats and nightmares started. He called his doctor. “You should have died or at least gone into seizures,” he recalls the doctor saying.

Latta was addicted — courtesy of a doctor’s legal prescription. He had to get back on the drug and is now tapering use to avoid harsh withdrawal symptoms. What he’d really like to do is treat himself with cannabis, widely recognized as benefitting MS patients. But that’s illegal in Wyoming. Simply put, his former colleagues in the Legislature won’t let him have the medicine he needs to live more comfortably.

Wyoming lawmakers are OK allowing people to take addictive opioids and his habit-forming medicine, known as a benzodiazepine. But not pot. “It’s OK for me to get hooked on heroin,” Latta says, “but it’s not OK for me to take a derivative of cannabis.”

While Wyoming has legalized medical use of a hemp extract, marijuana advocates disparage the derivative, don’t consider it medical marijuana, and point out that there’s no legal avenue to obtain it in Wyoming. So Latta and others are trying to convince legislators to loosen marijuana restrictions.

Frank Latta takes a break from fixing a light outside his home with his bird dogs Tess, left, and Button. After serving as Gillette's mayor and as a Wyoming legislator, he is now trying to get a medical marijuana ballot measure before voters in the fall of 2017. Afflicted by MS, “it’s OK for me to get hooked on heroin,” Latta says, “but it’s not OK for me to take a derivative of cannabis.” (Ed Glazar/Gillette News Record)

Frank Latta takes a break from fixing a light outside his home with his bird dogs Tess, left, and Button. After serving as Gillette’s mayor and as a Wyoming legislator, he is now trying to get a medical marijuana ballot measure before voters in the fall of 2018. Afflicted by MS, “it’s OK for me to get hooked on heroin,” Latta says, “but it’s not OK for me to take a derivative of cannabis.” (Ed Glazar/Gillette News Record)

But efforts to liberalize marijuana laws stall in Cheyenne. Marijuana bills, “they don’t make it very far,” said Sen. Leland Christensen (R-Alta), co-chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee. In the last three years, for example, efforts to decriminalize marijuana have failed 45-15, 38-22 and 39-20.

Wyoming lawmakers’ sentiments are clear. But a University of Wyoming survey found 72 percent of residents support medical marijuana in Wyoming. It also teased out the results according to age and political beliefs, unveiling a divide “linked to political ideology and age,” wrote James King, a member of the university’s Department of Political Science. Those classifying themselves as “liberal” supported the use of marijuana as a medicine about 50 percent more often than those identifying themselves as “conservative.” When it comes to age, medical marijuana support is lowest among senior citizens, King wrote.

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In Wyoming, the young and the liberal aren’t in the best position to change laws. Twenty-six out of 30 state senators are Republicans, only four are Democrats. In the House, there are 51 Republicans, nine Democrats. The average Wyoming lawmaker is 59 years old, while the average Wyoming voter is 12 years younger, only 47.

If Latta can’t find relief in Cheyenne, he might find sympathy among the super-majority of  residents who support legalizing medical marijuana. A board member for Wyoming NORML, the Equality State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Latta is signing voters up in an attempt to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2018.

More than seven out of 10 Wyoming residents believe medical marijuana should be legal. The state Legislature is not contemplating a law allowing such, but Wyoming NORML is circulating a petition seeking to put the issue before voters in 2017. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

More than seven out of 10 Wyoming residents believe medical marijuana should be legal. The state Legislature is not contemplating a law allowing such, but Wyoming NORML is circulating a petition seeking to put the issue before voters in 2018. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

While his group works toward legalizing medical marijuana, lawmakers are trying to ratchet up cannabis penalties by refining laws regarding edible marijuana products. When Christensen’s committee met in Rock Springs April 27, a significant portion of its attention focused on edibles and how to create felony charges that would stand up in court.

As a nationwide tide sweeps toward liberalization, are Equality State lawmakers trying to motor the other way?

Lawmakers mull “need” for tougher laws

The balance of marijuana laws teeter on Christensen’s shoulders as the co-chairman of  Wyoming’s Joint Judiciary Committee. A Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, he grew up in the agricultural community of Alta and became an auctioneer and a cop. His wide-brimmed cowboy hat and rapid-fire bid-barking are fixtures at the Teton County Fair and nonprofit fundraisers. Christensen was a special forces soldier before making a 20-year career in law enforcement with sheriff’s departments in Teton and Lincoln counties. He heard plenty of public debate serving as a Teton County Commissioner before election to the Legislature in 2010.

In Cheyenne, Christensen gets his marching orders from the Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council. It tells him what his committee should study between sessions. The elite panel of 13, from House and Senate leadership, assigned Christensen’s committee a review of marijuana laws, opioid use, “the need for legislation on edible marihuana [sic] products,” and “concerns” over the medical marijuana petition. All that and more was on the judiciary committee agenda for a meeting in Rock Springs on April 27.

Sen. Leland Christensen, right, appeared recently in Casper at a rally supporting coal mining as he stumped the state as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. The co-chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee, which is charged with reviewing marijuana laws and fulfilling lawmakers’ desire to see a felony statute for cannabis edibles, he chaired a hearing last month in Rock Springs where he heard disparate views on the value and dangers of marijuana. (Tim Kupsick/WyoFile)

Sen. Leland Christensen, right, appeared recently in Casper at a rally supporting coal mining as he stumped the state as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. The co-chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee, which is charged with reviewing marijuana laws and fulfilling lawmakers’ desire to see a felony statute for cannabis edibles, he chaired a hearing last month in Rock Springs where he heard disparate views on the value and dangers of marijuana. (Tim Kupsick/WyoFile)

A leader of the Governor’s Marijuana Impact Assessment Council was there as well. Gov. Matt Mead assembled that 22-member body a year ago, also largely from the upper echelons of state government. About a third of the panel are or were law enforcement professionals. About a third are agency heads. Rep. James Byrd (D–Laramie), who has introduced decriminalization legislation three times, also serves on the council.

The establishment makeup shouldn’t be surprising given the panel’s charge — “to assess the impact on public health and safety,” of medical marijuana and recreational use. In a 248-page “Review of Literature and Subcommittee Reports” the council rated dozens of cannabis and marijuana studies. It made no recommendations.

At its April meeting in Rock Springs, the judiciary committee also heard comment from witnesses and the public. Byron Oedekoven, director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, brought Dr. Elina Chernyak of the Addiction Medicine Clinic at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. She provided a four-page outline of marijuana horrors. If any legislator needed an anti-marijuana peg on which to hang his or her hat, Chernyak provided plenty.

“Children who use marijuana are less likely to graduate high school and less likely to obtain college degrees,” her paper asserts; Pot stunts growth; Nursing babies absorb THC (the principle ingredient that makes users euphoric) if their mother smokes; Persistent cannabis use destroys nervous tissues in the adolescent brain; Those who start using as adolescents are more likely to continue and suffer “greater decline in IQ” that can’t be reversed; frequent use leads to a 7 percent drop in IQ.

RELATED | Marijuana decriminalization ‘up in smoke’ in Wyoming House

Chernyak’s outline continued: Chronic cannabis smokers remain uncoordinated “for at least three weeks” after they quit using; There was a “significant increase” in marijuana found in drivers involved in fatal crashes since medical cannabis expansion in Colorado in 2009; Cannabis increases suicide attempts among those with depression; It increases psychosis — delusions and hallucinations; Up to 4 percent of pot users become dependent within 24 months.

Christensen said that many of those assertions have been challenged. “I know there were people … some flat said she was a liar,” Christensen said in an interview after the hearing. “None of this is opinion or conjecture,” he said of Chernyak’s statements. “It’s all based on reports. She said it’s all got credibility or statistics behind it.”

In contrast, marijuana proponents offered mainly anecdotal evidence, he said. “We asked them to quote their sources and everybody quoted some doctor in Israel. If we’re going to get doctors name-dropped in on us … this [Chernyak] is a Wyoming doctor,” with experience in addiction counseling.”

Vehicles full of gummy bears

Along with cops, prosecutors also had a say in April. The Wyoming County and Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association selected Sweetwater County’s prosecuting attorney to represent its position and he began with a local story. Dan Erramouspe told the committee of an invasion of Wyoming by traffickers from nearby Colorado where recreational marijuana has been legal to sell to those older than 21 since 2014. “We have large amounts of marijuana [coming in] specifically in the edible form,” he said. “We’re pulling over vehicles that have massive amounts of gummy bears, brownies…”

But those edibles apparently haven’t found their way to the youth of County 4. “Right now we haven’t seen as much local impact,” Erramouspe said in an interview after the hearing. Instead, the big problem is an influx of methamphetamine and its use.

Nevertheless, Erramouspe sounded like a pitchman for potato chips when he told Christensen’s committee about the dangers of cannabis-laced candy. “Nobody’s ever eaten one gummy bear in their life,” he said.

Critics of Colorado’s relaxed marijuana laws are wary that children might get hold of edible cannabis products, like these for sale in that state, thinking they are candy. In Sweetwater County, “we’re pulling over vehicles that have massive amounts of gummy bears, brownies,” county attorney Dan Erramouspe told a legislative panel last month. The big problem, however, is methamphetamine, he said, and edibles have not taken widespread hold among youth. (Matthew Copeland/WyoFile)

Critics of Colorado’s relaxed marijuana laws are wary that children might get hold of edible cannabis products, like these for sale in that state, thinking they are candy. In Sweetwater County, “we’re pulling over vehicles that have massive amounts of gummy bears, brownies,” county attorney Dan Erramouspe told a legislative panel last month. The big problem, however, is methamphetamine, he said, and edibles have not taken widespread hold among youth. (Matthew Copeland/WyoFile)

Christensen’s committee is focusing on edible marijuana products in part because of a judge’s decision last year that complicated Wyoming’s edible enforcement scene. First District Court Judge Steven Sharpe last summer threw out felony charges against Christopher Piessens who had been stopped with 1.9 pounds of marijuana candies, cookies, bread and chocolate bars, “Because it is undisputed that the edibles in this case were not in plant form.” Case dismissed.

That’s right; while Wyoming’s marijuana laws apply with black and white certainty to the “green leafy substance” that’s so ubiquitous in police reports, their application to THC infused edibles is questionable. As a result of last summer’s failed prosecution, and possibly others, possessing edibles is treated as a misdemeanor in many Wyoming jurisdictions, even “if you’ve got a van full of gummy bears,” prosecutor Erramouspe told the judiciary committee. That limits penalties to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines — felony convictions usually bring up to five years in prison. “This is not a reasonable approach,” the prosecutor told the committee. “We’re treating [edibles] as something lesser. If anything, it’s not.”

Erramouspe and his fellow prosecutors want legislation that would allow them to charge defendants according to overall weight of the contraband snack even though the weight of edibles has little to no correlation with dosage. “All the other controlled substances are measured by weight,” Erramouspe said in an interview. “Five pounds, unless you’re Willie Nelson, is not going to be considered personal use.”

The alternative — testing for THC content — could protect citizens from serving jail time for low-dosage but high-weight products such as infused beverages, but it’s time consuming, expensive and can’t be done at the site of a traffic stop.

“We cannot get that [THC content and weight] on scene,” he said. “Then we don’t have probable cause for [felony] arrest.” Suspects must be charged within 72 hours, which he indicated was not long enough to certify THC content and weight in an edible. “We can’t stop and hold somebody just because we think they’ve done something wrong.”

Releasing suspects on the chance they might return to face felony charges following a days-long lab tests would be unrealistic, he said. Consequently, “nothing gets done with that person,” Erramouspe said. “Most likely if this person has out-of-state plates, he’s not coming back.”

But legislators haven’t been able to draw a line for edibles. Some lawmakers believe it is unfair, for example, to charge a college student for felony marijuana possession for a pan of marijuana brownies in which most of the weight is not cannabis. As Reps. Marti Halverson (R-Etna) and Charles Pelkey (D-Laramie) have pointed out, people would be jailed based on an amount of flour and sugar, not marijuana.

The Wyoming House earlier this year failed by a single vote to introduce an edibles bill that would have drawn the felony line at one pound. It would not consider a heavily debated and amended Senate bill. Halverson and Pelkey continued their resistance to charging based on weight at the Rock Springs committee hearing. “There’s going to be no excuse for not testing for THC content,” Halverson said.

Wyoming marijuana proponents have more daunting obstacles than gubernatorial panel reports and legislative committee hearing to wrestle with in their advocacy work. The death of 19-year-old Levy Thamba has become a persuasive rallying cry for the prohibition set. The Congolese student at Northwest College in Powell went on spring break to Colorado in March, 2014 where he ate a marijuana-infused cookie provided by a 23-year-old friend. The clerk who sold the cookie said to eat only a sixth of it at a time. Thamba, who was not known to have used marijuana before, ate a single piece, a field report from the Centers for Disease Control said. Feeling no effects after 30 to 60 minutes, he downed the rest.

“During the next 2 hours, he reportedly exhibited erratic speech and hostile behaviors,” the report said. “Approximately 3.5 hours after initial ingestion, and 2.5 hours after consuming the remainder of the cookie, he jumped off a fourth floor balcony and died from trauma. This case illustrates a potential danger associated with recreational edible marijuana use.”

Next week:

Does cannabis stop cancer cells from growing? What are the financials and human costs of continued prohibition? How many persons are behind bars in Wyoming for marijuana possession? What will it take to put the medical marijuana initiative before voters — and what will the judiciary committee report to the next legislative session?

This story is part of a six-topic series addressing issues of importance to Wyoming sponsored by the Wyoming Humanities Council as part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative, a joint venture of the Pulitzer Prizes Board and the Federation of State Humanities Councils in celebration of the 2016 centennial of the Prizes. The initiative seeks to illuminate the impact of journalism and the humanities on American life today, to imagine their future and to inspire new generations to consider the values represented by the body of Pulitzer Prize-winning work. For their generous support for the Campfires Initiative, we thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Pulitzer Prizes Board, and Columbia University — Ed.

 

CORRECTION: 2017 was originally misidentified as the target year for a medical marijuana ballot initiative — Ed.

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About the Author

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Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at [email protected] or (307) 690-5586. Follow Angus on Twitter at @AngusThuermer

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21 Responses to Wyoming’s war on weed

  1. William Harasym August 15, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    I sent this article to Mark Jennings, my WY State Representative in House District 30. On his Facebook Page, in the ‘About Section’ it says: “I love Wyoming enough to throw my hat into the ring. We have the opportunity to bring back the greatness of our State and our Country.”
    When I send him this article on Facebook, all I said was, “Have you read this?” That was on August 2, 2016 at 6:07pm, 13 days ago. Just a quick qualifier, over the last 25 years, most times that I’ve written to local state legislatures, whether they are in the State House or State Senate, I’ve never ever gotten a response, ever, even now with the internet and e-mail. Rosie Berger and Bruce Burns have been the worst. Sen. Schiffer when he was alive was the best, along with Keith Goodenough.
    Now with that said, Mark Jennings did eventually reply, and here is what he said about this article:
    “I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to look at it as I have been campaigning non stop. I will look at it though. Thanks, Mark Jennings”
    So, maybe he’ll read it, hopefully with an open mind… who knows. It’s a shame the Governor didn’t approach his own- “Governor’s Marijuana Impact Assessment Council” that way. The mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open! Right Matt?

    Sheridan, Wyoming

  2. Jason Vigil August 3, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    OK so what I see is my state reps are not very smart. They want to keep people on opioids so they can get those people in the penal system for being addicts. They want the same for marijuana users. So they like the 45000 the state gets in funds to house each person but they don’t see the revenue that Colorado has generated while helping people. That money helps everything from jobs to schools. Colorado’s prescription drugs use is down like 75℅ and other drugs like meth, version and the like is down consumable also. Wyoming don’t want that cause they think they make more just keeping people in jail and prison. But those two facilities are the only ones profiting from that. Plus they probably don’t want the paper work to let those on paper or incarcerated cleared. Sounds like misinformed lazy lawmakers that care nothing what voters think.

    Rock Springs, Wyoming

    • Jason Vigil August 3, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      Also they are worried about marijuana getting into the hands of our youth. What about all the alcohol they get from mommy and daddy’s stash. That’s worse than anything from hemp, but they won’t do anything about that except slap on the writ misdemeanor cause (cough cough) that brings revenue here and God forbid people not be able to drink in this state.

      Rock Springs, Wyoming

  3. Ed Calkins August 3, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    “Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to there various kinds’…..And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:11-12

    “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food……I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw wall that he had made, and it was very good….” Genesis 1:29-31

    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all me are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Declaration of Independence

    I’m a 45 year old Wyoming native son who serves God, family, and country. I am a product of Nacy Reagan’s Just Say No program in the early 80’s and was scared to death that if I tried marijuana I would die. As I grew older I realized that what the government was telling everybody was an absolute lie. According to the government, Marijuana has gone from causing people to go psycho and kill people from the 1930’s, to hemp for victory of WW II, to causing soldiers to be a pacifists in Vietnam. Mr. Christensen said Dr. Chernyak has the data and evidence to back her report, but it is only the evidence from the study of harmful effects of marijuana by the national government. Positive effects are not researched in the U.S. like it is in Israel. For a country that prides itself on freedom, we incarcerate more people than any other nation in the world, and most of that is drug related, with a lot of that tied to a God given green plant, that to me, should be able to be grown in anyone’s garden like tomatoes and be used for what purpose they see fit. I’ve looked at both sides of the issue and understand the fear people have over his plant, but their fear is based on lies that they, like me, were educated with in the past.

    Instead of coming up with harsher penalities for posseing gummie bears, maybe our legislature should have some balls and legalize it. With Wyoming losing tax revenue from the downturn in coal we need something to help pick up the slack. Legalizing cannabis isn’t a cure-all by any means, but it will create new businesses, which creates new jobs, which creates a new tax base, which helps create tax revenue. Colorado is taking in millions of Wyoming tax dollars. Maybe it’s time time to keep our money here.

    Sheridan, Wyoming

  4. Gregory L Lamm August 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm #

    And yet we continue to vote the dinosaurs back into office, isn’t it far past time to retire the Committee to keep Wyoming, Backwards, Ignorant, and Podunk?

    Cheyenne, Wyoming

  5. Marian Freeman May 31, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    Wyoming could sure use some new industry and I see this as one. It requires lots of poor land and low chemical input. The product has uses as food for all animals. including humans. It requires little water. The sun here is perfect.
    Also, the product need not knock your brain out of the ballpark like the Colorado standard weed.
    The day’s of being a little stoned were okay.
    People going to Colorado to get their pot could buy it closer to home. No doubt a few(many?) of our legislators could not pass their drug tests.

    Sheridan, Wyoming

  6. Robert O. Marshall III May 30, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    I was recently horrendously abused by the Wyoming Department of Corrections’ medical provider, Corizon Health, and prison authorities to the point that on my release, it has been found that the medical abuse I have suffered has injured me to the point that I now face the threat of death every minute of every day. My heinous crime? possession of less than 1/8th oz of marijuana that I used to help alleviate the chronic pain caused by my disabilities.
    The treatment allowed to prisoners in this state are egregious, illegal, and sickening.
    I cannot find an attorney who has what it takes to confront the State government for redress of its crimes against its citizens.

    Casper, Wyoming

  7. Paul Cook May 28, 2016 at 7:07 am #

    At least everyone agrees that we couldn’t have a good old War on Weed or War on Coal without quality fear based superficial journalism. Outlawing Mother nature is tough work. Prizes for all.

    wilson, Wyoming

  8. Thomas Stines May 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    Mick McMurry, renowned businessman and philanthropist formerly from Natrona County, experienced rapidly declining mental health after his back surgery in February, which lead to his suicide.

    It’s not quite known exactly what factors cause post-operative depression, though there are some thoughts about that. As depression may strike any surgery patient, there are theories as to exactly which aspects of the surgery may have a detrimental effect on patients, such as:

    Anesthesia from the surgery
    Antibiotics and other medications given to treat pain
    Disorientation after the surgery
    Digestive problems caused by medication given to the patient
    Post-Surgical Traumatic Stress Syndrome
    Soreness and pain
    Being bedridden in the recovery process

    Thanks to Wyoming’s conservative mantra, and the outmoded stigma associated with it’s use, medical marijuana would have never been considered a viable treatment alternative for his depression.

    Many scientific and medical studies have shown marijuana to be an effective antidepressant treatment (of course, individual results may vary greatly from patient to patient). Most states that have legalized medical marijuana include depression as a recognized treatable illness.

    Continued criminalization proponents have Levy Thamba to illustrate their stance, but what of the case of Mick McMurry as an illustration for the case of medical legalization? How could the possible damage/outcome have been any worse in his case? He may very well still be alive today had medical marijuana been legal & available.

    Just a thought.

    Sadly, rather than adhering to logical, common sense ideologies, many of today’s Conservatives define themselves simply by what and whom they oppose, which is anything and everything they perceive to be liberal. Relying on circular reasoning, they also often choose to define liberalism as anything they oppose.

    Sheridan, Wyoming

  9. Edith Cook May 27, 2016 at 7:03 am #

    I have long supported WYOFile and have been waiting and hoping for your news service to take up this issue. So glad you did! Good reporting, pertinent intro & conclusion.

    Wheatland, Wyoming

  10. Paul Rock May 25, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    The biggest fear of Republican legislators is that if marijuana is legalized then the hippies win. After that it is a slippery slope to embracing the other hippy virtues – peace and love. Of course, we cannot have that. There is little to be made in promoting peace and love. The “smart” money is on the financially rewarding continuation of hate and war.

    Equally at work in the Republican mind is, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, the haunting puritanical fear that someone, somewhere, may be having a good time.

    Pinedale, Wyoming

  11. Kathleen Petersen May 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    What continues to amaze me (it probably shouldn’t) is why the focus of some of the Legislators and this committee is to figure out how they can make more people felons. Do we not have enough of our citizens in prison and in jails? How many are enough? When you only let prosecutors and representatives of law enforcement be on the agenda, should we (I) be surprised by the outcome of the hearings.We the people need to continue to circulate the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot in 2018 and let the 72% of the people speak and I’m willing to bet there will be more than 72% by that time.

    Cheyenne, Wyoming

  12. Mike fauber May 24, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    Great article

    Cheyenne, Wyoming

  13. pamela gallagher May 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    it is a terrible thing how wyoming wont even consider the benefits of marijuana and what about the individual aspect freedom of choice, religion, medical, and the right to life

    casper, Wyoming

  14. Carrie Satterwhite May 24, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    For Mr. Christensen to say that “In contrast, marijuana proponents offered mainly anecdotal evidence, he said. “We asked them to quote their sources and everybody quoted some doctor in Israel. If we’re going to get doctors name-dropped in on us”. Here is some information on that “some Dr.” who by the way has researched cannabis and knows more than Dr. Elina Chernyak who is only interested in fear mongering, as usual.

    Raphael Mechoulam (Hebrew: רפאל משולם‎) (born 1930) is an Israeli organic chemist and professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Mechoulam is best known for his work (together with Y. Gaoni) in the isolation, structure elucidation and total synthesis of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active principle of cannabis and for the isolation and the identification of the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide from the brain and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) from peripheral organs together with his students, postdocs and collaborators. These 2 Dr. can not be compared as Dr. Mechoulam is so much more educated on this subject than Dr. Chernyak.
    Just do a google search on Dr. Mechoulam and you will find his qualifications are more than anecdotal.

    Ralston, Wyoming

    • Thomas McIntyre May 24, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Quote of the week: “She said it’s all got credibility or statistics behind it.”

      –Wyoming legislator supporting anti-marijuana laws, referring to Dr. Chernyak’s pot horror stories

      Sheridan, Wyoming

    • Robert O. Marshall III May 30, 2016 at 9:55 am #

      Thank you, Carrie

      Casper, Wyoming

    • Laura Olden August 2, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

      Oh, but remember their Dr. was from Wyoming, makes all the difference… apparently, lol.

      Laramie, Wyoming

  15. Bennett (B.J.) Sondeno May 24, 2016 at 8:34 am #

    Great article, but we are actually aiming to have the Peggy A. Kelley Wyoming Cannabis Act placed before voters on the 2018 ballot. Thanks for informing Wyoming’s people on this topic that is so important to so many of us!

    Cody, Wyoming

  16. Richard Grayson May 24, 2016 at 7:09 am #

    The only weed Wyoming needs to be at war with is leafy spurge.

    Brooklyn, New York

    • Gregory Todd Smith May 26, 2016 at 4:34 am #

      Well said Mr. Grayson of Brooklyn ! And your right Mr. Christensen. How could we ever believe a doctor or scientist from Israel. A country that has done more extensive research on the use of hemp/cannabis than any other. Since Chernyak lives in Wyoming and sights evidence from domestic
      sources we have no choice but to put all our ducks in her pond. That was an incredibly uninformed thing
      to say. Well done. She does have valid points. They do have evidence. If you looked into it better you probably would find the folks in Israel documented those findings long ago. They are well past that now.
      Hey, they treat dementia related disorders with hemp/cannabis. Don’t kill all the venomous snakes until we rule out the chance a deadly toxin actually helps with severe arthritis. Think the Israel folks figured that one out too. It isn’t illegal to research there. Israel, Canada, Russia, China, the list goes on and on.
      They are years ahead of us on research and development. Wyoming needs more industry. We want more jobs that don’t rely on oil, gas, and coal. I want to start a Hemp Company. I want to provide field services to farmers and ranchers. Canadian hemp trucks past failing American farmers almost daily.
      ALMOST DAILY FOLKS ! We import it by the shipload !! Is there a lawyer who will sue for my right to prosper. Spence you in ?? I can’t pay you. You helped Erin ! You live here too right ?
      Regards and let’s get this done, Gregory Todd Smith Casper 307-333-4626

      Casper, Wyoming

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