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The new face of Wyoming marijuana reform may surprise you

A former Wyoming Republican lawmaker is now leading the NORML chapter in his home state

January 27, 2017

 

Wyoming’s relationship with weed could be a key theme in 2017.

The state’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) kicked off the year by appointing a new director — a former mayor and two-term Republican state legislator who said he’s “not going to quit” until his home state legalizes medical marijuana and hemp cultivation.

And as of Thursday, at least five marijuana- and hemp-related bills have been proposed in the state legislature.

Among the 430-plus bills introduced in Wyoming’s 2017 General Session are:

• two measures aimed at lessening some penalties for marijuana possession (HB-0157) — one includes some steeper penalties for subsequent offenses (HB-0197);

• one that would allow for hemp extracts (HB-0081) to be used for the treatment of certain medical conditions in adults and children;

• another that would grant “reciprocity” by making it lawful for a person to possess marijuana (HB-0247), provided he or she has a medical marijuana card from their state of residency and the amount follows that state’s guidelines;

• and one to authorize industrial hemp farming for research purposes (HB-0233).

Frank Latta of Wyoming NORML
Frank Latta became the executive director for Wyoming NORML on Jan. 1, 2017. (Courtesy of Wyoming NORML)

There are rumblings that at least one other bill may be coming — one that could address Wyoming NORML’s petition for medical marijuana and hemp cultivation, said Frank Latta, a longtime Wyoming politico who became the organization’s director on Jan. 1.

“This would be a bill that I really believe has some medical benefit for some people who really need it terribly instead of overusing the opiates,” Latta said Thursday in an interview with The Cannabist. “I also think there’s … a very overlooked part of this and that’s the economic development side of hemp. I think that’s wide open.”

Latta’s new role marks a makeover for the NORML chapter at a time when public support for marijuana reform is on the rise, reported the Casper Star-Tribune earlier this week: