Wyoming residents experienced a big win for legalization, as the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee just advanced a bill that could set up a regulatory system for legal cannabis in the state.
If passed, House Bill 209 would allow adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. A recent survey shows that 54 percent of people in Wyoming support legalizing cannabis, up from 37 percent in 2014.
Now, leaders in the Wyoming Legislature are hoping to get ahead of the curve and legalize cannabis in a way that gives them more oversight, as they fear otherwise it might end up as a ballot measure. Also, they hope that the new, legal cannabis system will help generate income for the state.
“The fiscal note is approximately $50 million per year,” said Committee Chair Jared Olsen, who sponsored the bill. “Three-quarters of that, or $30.7 million per year, would be generated for the school foundation fund, and $15.35 million annually for the local sources fund, and $3.1 million in special revenue, that’s the licensing fees in the first year of legalization.”
The plan would be to use some of the revenue from the cannabis industry to give back to local governments, as well as to the Wyoming School Foundation in order to support schools.
“This local control is very important because the qualified voters of a city, town, or county, have the authority to petition their governing body to either allow by resolution or ordinance or completely prohibit any of these operations within their locality,” Olsen continued.
While establishing the legislation, the committee considered testimonies from those who opposed and supported legal cannabis in order to iron out the issues and impacts of any moves they made. Some of the concerns brought forth were about how to enforce and regulate legal cannabis, as well as the impact it would have on local law enforcement.
Next up, the bill will move on to the Wyoming House floor.