Wyoming: Colorado Edibles Forces Wyoming Legislature Into Action

NBC11 News write

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo.– Wyoming lawmakers continue to wrestle with setting criminal penalties for possession of marijuana edibles that are increasingly coming in from Colorado and other states where the drug is legal.

The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee held a daylong hearing in Rock Springs on Wednesday. The panel heard from state prosecutors that although possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana in plant form is a felony, the law only allows misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana edibles.

The Legislature earlier this year rejected a bill to make possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana edibles a felony. Opponents say it’s difficult to test edibles to determine the amount of THC, the active component of the drug.

The committee will continue work on legislation to set felony limits for edibles possession.


Local newspaper the Caspar Star Tribune reports

ROCK SPRINGS — The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee discussed Wednesday how to define edible marijuana in a way that helps law enforcement.

Legislators are considering whether law enforcement should weigh edibles or measure the potency of the marijuana they contain. They’re also considering what standard should be used to determine misdemeanor and felony amounts of THC.

Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe, speaking on behalf of the Wyoming Prosecuting Attorneys Association, recommended maintaining the 3-ounce marijuana edible standard for felony arrests. He said Wyoming is not able to test the quantity of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in any edible product.

“We need to deal with this in a rational, reasonable way with what we already have on the books,” Erramouspe said.

A bill that would have made it a felony to possess more than 3 ounces of marijuana edibles died in the past legislative session. Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, said legislators couldn’t get past the possibility of sending a college student to prison for a pan of brownies.

When a suspect is stopped, the edible is tested and weighed at the scene. If it tests positive for marijuana, the initial charge is determined by that weight.

Erramouspe said if law enforcement is required to wait for THC test results, which could take a week or more, then the arrest might be delayed or not happen at all.

While most of the committee members agreed testing was in the future, logistics and specifics were harder to nail down.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said many labs can test but not to a legal standard helpful to law enforcement. The current focus is labeling and serving size.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, suggested increasing the felony amount to 3 pounds of an edible.

Rep. Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis, said he thought the issue was weight vs. potency and wanted to know which was more useful for law enforcement. Erramouspe said he had no answer for that because THC concentrations vary by product.

Dr. Elina Chernyak, who is in charge of inpatient detoxification at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and outpatient drug treatment, told legislators about the effects of marijuana use and the testing process.

Chernyak said testing edibles was impossible because the THC typically isn’t evenly distributed.

She also cautioned against legalizing marijuana. Chronic daily marijuana users exhibit impaired psychomotor functions and have irreversible loss of brain function and increased risk of psychosis, she said.

Chernyak said cannabinoid, the therapeutic chemical in marijuana, is much different than THC, the hallucinogenic chemical. It can help with nausea in cancer patients. However, she said there are new drugs that are considered more effective.

Much of the testimony presented to the committee spoke in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.

Sweetwater County resident Casey Fletcher said he has struggled with depression and is bipolar, and prescription drugs made him feel worse. However, he said once he started smoking cannabis in flour form, he changed for the better.

“I’ve never felt so normal,” he said.

Amber Sparks, public relations officer for several Wyoming pro-cannabinoid groups, praised the benefits of CBD oil — for pain and cancer relief and for the regeneration of brain cells. She called it a “viable medicine” and suggested that the production of hemp in Wyoming could bring in much-needed revenue.

Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, recommended the committee take up marijuana edibles as a standalone issue at its next meeting. The committee also asked to hear from the state’s crime lab about testing.





The final report from the Governor’s Marijuana Impact Assessment Council is now available.


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