two-wyoming-cannabis-initiatives-fall-short,-won’t-make-2024-ballot

Wyoming is one of the few states left that criminalizes adults and patients for possessing and using cannabis, and it looks like the state is unlikely to budge any time soon, given the recent failure of two ballot initiatives.

While the two cannabis-related initiatives received enough voter signature support, each fell short of a second required threshold and will not make it to Wyoming’s 2024 ballot, Oil City News reports.

Wyoming NORML and the Libertarian Party were collecting signatures for the two bills. The Wyoming Patient Cannabis Act of 2022 aimed to legalize medical cannabis in the state, while the Wyoming Cannabis Amendments ballot measure aimed to decriminalize the drug. 

Each bill made it past the first obstacle and met Wyoming’s signature requirements, specifically needing 41,776 each, the highest amount required in the state’s history. As of March 2, the Wyoming Patient Cannabis Act of 2022 received 28,687 signatures from Wyoming voters, and the Wyoming Cannabis Amendments initiative received 47,426 signatures. Both organizations began gathering signatures in 2021.

In addition to these verified voter signatures, Wyoming requires ballot initiatives to receive 15% of those voting in the past general election in at least two-thirds of all the counties in the state. The initiatives received the 15% threshold in 14 of the 16 required counties. Due to these two counties missing the mark, the initiatives will not proceed onto the 2024 ballot.

“Through all the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding these two initiatives, Wyoming voters showed their commitment to medical freedom and the right to try life-changing medications in our state. Our initiatives both received more signatures from voters than any other in history, and we are excited to announce we have met the threshold requirement,” said Bennett Sondeno, Wyoming NORML executive director.

Past Troubles in Wyoming

This isn’t the first time Wyoming NORML has fallen short on a ballot initiative, as the group similarly campaigned for a petition that would have legalized medical cannabis in 2016 but similarly fell short. Ballot initiatives as a whole in Wyoming are notoriously difficult, given these requirements, and the majority of them ultimately don’t succeed.

Wyoming NORML plans to continue working with legislators in the upcoming session to “bring bills to the floor that utilize the language of each initiative,” according to a news release. The advocacy group said it will also look toward future ballot initiatives when signature requirements are lower and under the amount already achieved in this filing.

Wyoming remains one of the final states in the West with a complete ban on cannabis, ironically sitting directly north of Colorado, one of the first states to enact recreational cannabis laws and establish a legal market. Idaho is the only other Western state with the same restrictions.

And the state’s continued restrictions against cannabis don’t reflect the views of its citizens, according to a 2020 University of Wyoming poll. The survey found that more than half (54%) of Wyoming residents say they support allowing adults in the state to legally possess cannabis for personal use, a steady increase of support over the years. 

An even larger majority of Wyoming residents (85%) stood behind the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes prescribed by a doctor, remaining steady from 2018 when 86% reported their support for medical cannabis. In addition, 75% of Wyoming residents said that people convicted of possessing small amounts of cannabis should not serve jail time.

“As laws regarding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana change around the U.S., especially in nearby states, it’s not surprising to see attitudes in Wyoming change as well,” said Brian Harnisch, a senior research scientist at the university.

 

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