Wyoming's Struggle To Maintain Fair, Firm Edible Marijuana Laws

By Bryan Le 01/29/18

An influx of pot products crossing over from Colorado has put Wyoming in a tough legal position.

Marijuana Cookies With Bud
How much is baked in?

With recreational marijuana now legal in neighboring Colorado, lawmakers in Wyoming are having to take a hard look at the way they enforce marijuana laws, and whether to update the laws to keep up with the changing landscape.

While it is still very much illegal to do so in Wyoming, people are purchasing marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles and bringing them over state lines. Authorities in Wyoming have so far been unable to keep their laws updated to keep up with these products, a problem which became apparent when judges in Wyoming ruled that there were no laws prohibiting marijuana edibles, according to NPR.

Whether it is raw cannabis or infused in a product matters because the amount matters—possession of three ounces of cannabis in its leafy plant form is a felony in the state.

“It would absolutely take me at least three months, if not six months, to finish 3 ounces of cannabis,” said Maka Kalai, Director of Sales and Marketing for Colorado-based marijuana vendor Organic Alternatives.

This huge amount is reason enough for police to be suspicious. “The argument has always been that if you have over a certain amount it's no longer considered for personal use,” said Police Chief Dale Stalder of the Laramie police department. “You must be possessing it in order to sell it to somebody else.”

The trouble is, three ounces of marijuana in plant form is very much different than it is in edibles and drinks that feature pot’s active ingredient: THC.

“The fundamental problem is whether you want to charge someone as a felon for bringing a 16-ounce, THC-laden drink back into the state of Wyoming,” said Rep. Charles Pelkey.

The state is considering two possible laws for such products.

The first makes three ounces of edibles and 36 ounces of liquid marijuana a felony. The second maintains the three-ounce threshold across the board but reduces the penalty for first- and second-time offenders. The Wyoming attorney general wants to stay tough on edibles because he believes that edibles carry their own unique dangers.

“One of the things that the edible marijuana industry has taught us is that if you want to sell a psychoactive substance, a really effective way is to bundle it with chocolate because that's something people like,” explained John Kepper of the Wyoming attorney general's office.

Some advocate for more nuanced laws, such as sentencing based on THC levels instead of ounces of product.

Others believe that the debate should be scrapped altogether in favor of legalization.

“You know,” Pelkey commented, “I haven't spent this much time listening to people pointlessly talk about weed since I was in high school.”

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter