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Cheyenne City Council rejects marijuana reforms

David McNew
Getty Images

The Cheyenne City Council rejected an attempt to loosen its marijuana restrictions Monday, March 27. The measure would have amended Cheyenne’s municipal code to essentially decriminalize cannabis locally. Those caught with marijuana would have avoided city courts and any ticketing, though they could’ve still faced charges in state or federal courts since the drug is illegal in Wyoming and at the national level.

This was the second and final rejection vote by the council regarding its cannabis laws, and the tally was 6-3.

Those for the reforms said current marijuana laws are unpopular in Cheyenne and put a large burden on local courts and law enforcement. A 2020 poll found that the majority of Wyomingites support legalization for personal use, and an even larger margin supports decriminalization.

“If the state believes that this should be illegal, despite what the overwhelming majority of citizens want, let them pay for it,” said local resident Max Esdale. “Let them bear as much of the burden as possible or change the law to reflect the popular will.”

Those against the ordinance, however, argued that it was unconstitutional and mostly an unhelpful symbolic message.

“Marijuana remains a schedule one drug and is illegal on a state and federal level,” said Rhea Parsons with the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. “An ordinance that runs contrary to that would probably put you in the weeds more than you would care for.”

Wyoming has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the Mountain West – cannabis is outlawed even for medical use. Two petitions that would’ve put different forms of legalization on the 2024 ballot both failed to get enough signatures from state residents.

Will Walkey is currently a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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