Wyoming Governor Ponders Lawsuit, Furious At Feds For Not Enforcing Marijuana Laws

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming is furious about marijuana pouring into his state, but unlike Oklahoma and Nebraska, he’s not focused on suing Colorado, but is instead considering suing the federal government for violating states’ rights.

According to Mead, the federal government’s consistent refusal to enforce federal law represents an actual change in the legislation, a change, which he argues, can only come from Congress, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

“I’m a states’ rights guy, and I believe in that,” Mead told the Casper Star-Tribune. “My position, if we could get there, wouldn’t be to sue the state of Colorado. It would be to sue the federal government.”

Currently, the law in Wyoming states that anyone caught in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana could face as much as one year in prison and a $1,000 dollar fine. But despite the consequences, a local police chief in Wyoming has noted that marijuana use has exploded as a result of marijuana flowing across the Colorado border.

“We’re seeing it here,” Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt said, referring to the dramatic uptick of citations for marijuana in Powell, Wyo., according to the Powell Tribune.

While Mead acknowledged that legal marijuana has brought in substantial tax revenue for the state of Colorado, he reaffirmed that the approach in Wyoming has always been to “watch and see” before making any sudden moves. As far as Mead is concerned, the hidden costs of marijuana in Colorado are not yet clear, namely in terms of substance abuse treatment, law enforcement costs and health impacts.

A poll in December 2014 by the University of Wyoming found that while residents might be open to medical marijuana, voters seem uninterested in the prospect of recreational marijuana. A total of 72 percent of survey respondents supported the idea of medical marijuana, so long as it was prescribed by a physician. But that support plummeted when adults were asked their opinions on recreational marijuana. Only 35 percent agreed with the idea that marijuana should be legal for personal use, and a majority, 60 percent, remain staunchly opposed.

The first poll, conducted back in 2000, showed that the number of Wyoming residents in favor of medical marijuana hasn’t budged an inch in 14 years, although the number in support of recreational marijuana has moved from 23 percent to 35 percent.

Despite Mead’s opposition, Democratic Rep. Jim Byrd has introduced legislation to decriminalize the possession of one ounce of marijuana or less, in an effort to keep people out of jail who shouldn’t be there. For Byrd, possession is serious enough for a civil fine, but not criminal charges.

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