Four years ago a judge ruled that Wyoming’s drug laws only deal with plant forms of marijuana which means that people with large amounts of edible marijuana could not face felony charges. Law enforcement agencies have asked the legislature to address the matter, but it’s been a tough battle. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports neither side has been willing to budge.
In Wyoming, pot is illegal. Not so in neighboring Colorado, where recreational marijuana is available in a variety of different forms.
The general feeling is that if you bring marijuana legally purchased in Colorado into Wyoming, you'll probably get into trouble. But what kind of trouble remains to be seen.
Lawmakers in Wyoming have been trying to adapt their laws to account for more than just leafy pot since 2015, when a couple of Wyoming judges ruled that state law does not have specific penalties for marijuana-laced edibles.
Wyoming makes 3 ounces of leafy marijuana a felony. Maka Kalai, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Fort Collins, Colo., pot retailer Organic Alternatives, says smoking that much pot would take a long time.
"It would absolutely take me at least three months, if not six months, to finish 3 ounces of cannabis," he says.
"The argument has always been that if you have over a certain amount it's no longer considered for personal use," explains Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder. "You must be possessing it in order to sell it to somebody else."
But if 3 ounces of leafy pot is a lot, 3 ounces of edible pot may seem rather modest once one considers the flour in a brownie, sugar in candies, or water in a beverage.
"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," says Democratic state Rep. Charles Pelkey.
For those of you wondering, tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is responsible for marijuana's psychotropic effects — it's what gives you a high.
The Wyoming legislature will consider two bills this session and neither takes it easy on edibles. One would make 3 ounces of edible marijuana and 36 ounces of liquid marijuana a felony, while the other would maintain 3 ounces as a felony but lessen penalties for first and second offenders.
The tough stance is because law enforcement sees dangers with edibles. John Knepper of the Wyoming attorney general's office says people often eat more than the recommended serving.
"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," he says.
Laramie Defense Attorney Cole Sherard fears countless felony charges over very small amounts of marijuana. He wants state law to be based on THC levels:
"I think there's enough literature and research out there where you can at least get some idea of how much are in these edible products and try to compare them to our current statutes and try and come up with something a little more fair."
But Wyoming's state crime lab says it can't measure for THC, and the THC levels listed on labels counts as hearsay and is inadmissible in court.
Rep. Pelkey says the legislature has wasted too much time on the issue and thinks they should move to decriminalize Wyoming's marijuana laws.
"You know," he says, "I haven't spent this much time listening to people pointlessly talk about weed since I was in high school."
The Wyoming legislature will attempt to add more certainty to the issue when it takes up the new proposals next month.