Wyoming Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Legalize Cannabis

A bipartisan group of Wyoming lawmakers has introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in the state legislature. Buckrail.com first reported that HB0209 was in 2nd place. March is planned. The bill legalizes adult possession, cultivation and sale and establishes a regulatory framework for licensing, supervision and taxation.

In November 2020, voters in Montana and South Dakota passed a measure to legalize the use and sale of adult-use cannabis. About a month after Election Day, the University of Wyoming conducted a poll that showed about 54 percent of Wyoming residents now support legal adult use of cannabis. In 2018, the UW found that 85 percent of Wyoming residents support legalizing medical cannabis.

In March 2019, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed legislation that essentially legalized cannabis in the state. This law has been a boon to the state’s agricultural sector and has given many farmers a much-needed boost to increase their crop wealth.

Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming

The current version of HB0209 can be found here. The sponsors of the bill are: Performances : Jared Olsen (R-Laramie), Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater), Eric Barlow (R-Campbell/Converse), Landon Brown (R-Laramie), Marshall Burt (L-Sweetwater), Cathy Connolly (D-Albany), Carly Provenza (D-Albany), John Romero-Martinez (R-Laramie), Pat Sweeney (R-Natrona), Cyrus Western (R-Sheridan), Mike Yin (R-Teton), and Dan Zwonitzer (R-Laramie), along with Senators Kale Case (R-Fremont) and Chris Rothfuss (D-Albany).

According to Buckrail, Wyoming could collect approximately $49.15 million in taxes and permit fees in 2022 if the bill passes. That would mean an 8.5 percent drop in state tax revenue by 2020. Last year, Governor Gordon proposed a 15% cut to the state agency’s budget. The majority of cannabis tax revenue will go to education.

Wyoming’s tax revenue is notoriously limited when it comes to diversity: The state gets its money from oil and gas, and that’s just the beginning. Earlier this year, the Biden administration terminated oil and gas leases on federal lands, shutting down the market on nearly half a million acres. If the pause in leasing oil and gas reserves on federal lands continues or becomes permanent, Wyoming will lose tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars a year.

What does the least populous state in the country do when it can no longer generate revenue from oil and gas? It’s simple: Legalize cannabis.

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