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Wyoming Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Passes House Committee Vote

A state bordering on Colorado moves towards reducing penalties for cannabis possession.

A marijuana decriminalization bill is actively moving through the Wyoming legislature. The Cowboy State has some of the toughest possession penalties in the nation.

Currently anyone caught with up to three ounces of cannabis faces a criminal misdemeanor charge carrying up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine. More than 3 ounces is a felony that can result in 5 years of jail time and a $10,000 fine.

The decrim bill passed the House Judiciary Committee yesterday by a strong margin, 7-2.

UPDATE 1/22/15 – The bill came to a floor vote and was defeated 38-22. Read more

HB 29 would create a fine structure for adults caught possessing cannabis ranging from $250 to $500 for those caught with one ounce or less.

The existing penalties would remain in place for those caught with any more.

Lawmakers sponsoring the bill were somewhat inspired by the full legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

Other bordering states are not so thrilled. Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado in federal court. National NORML’s founder and legal counsel Keith Stroup said of the suit «The Attorney Generals pushing this lawsuit are not only out-of-step with existing public opinion and emerging political opinion, but they are also clearly on the wrong side of history.”

The Wyoming decriminalization bill must pass a full vote in the House of Representatives before being considered by the state senate.

It is unclear what position Wyoming’s Republican Governor Matt Mead has on the decrim bill. Mead is opposed to full legalization.

Wyoming has not joined in the suit with Nebraska and Oklahoma. But Mead recently told the Casper Star Tribune “I’m a states’ rights guy, and I believe in that,” Mead said. “My position, if we could get there, wouldn’t be to sue the state of Colorado. It would be to sue the federal government.”