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Initiative seeks to legalize recreational marijuana

A group known as Wyoming NORML, which stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wants to make recreational pot legal in Wyoming.  The proposed initiative would make it legal to grow, sell and transport marijuana, and to purchase up to three ounces.

The group’s director Chris Christian says that legalization could make the state money.  Colorado expects to make eight-billion-dollars in revenues this year.  And, she says, decriminalizing pot could save the state millions of dollars, too.

“We would cut law enforcement by as much as a third, we’d cut the prison staff by almost half,” she says.  “Those are big job cuts and the people in Wyoming are going to scream.  Until we turn around and tell them there are going to be contrasting positions in the private sector that are overwhelmingly better jobs.”

Christian says those jobs would include warehouse inspectors, security guards at retail dispensaries, and jobs in transportation and agriculture.  The group proposes that the state could regulate cannabis much like it does tobacco with the same tax rates and restrictions to minors.  If it meets initiative standards the group can try and collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot.  Meanwhile, the legislature may deal with a similar issue.  Representative Sue Wallis plans to propose a medical marijuana bill during February’s legislative session.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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