A bipartisan group of Wyoming lawmakers has proposed bill legalizing cannabis into state law. HB0209 was first reported by Buckrail.com and assigned on March 2nd. The bill would legalize adult home ownership, growth, and sale, as well as provide a legal framework for licensing, tracking, and taxation.
In November 2020, voters in Montana and South Dakota passed election measures legalizing the use and sale of cannabis by adults. About a month after Election Day, the University of Wyoming conducted a survey that found that approximately 54% of Wyoming residents now support legal adult cannabis use. In 2018, UW found that 85% of Wyoming residents support medical cannabis legalization.
In March 2019, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill essentially legalizing hemp in the state. This bill was a boon to the state’s agriculture and gave many farmers a much-needed boost to their crop diversity.
Mark Gordon, Wyoming Governor
The current version of HB0209 can be found here. Bill sponsors include: Representatives Jared Olsen (R-Laramie), Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater), Eric Barlow (R-Campbell / Converse), Landon Brown (R-Laramie), Marshall Burt (L-Sweetwater) and Cathy Connolly (D-Albany), Karlee 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) and Senators Cale Case (R-Fremont) and Chris Rothfuss (D-Albany).
According to Buckrail, Wyoming could generate around $ 49.15 million in tax and royalty income in 2022 if the bill goes into effect. That figure would mean a sizeable win for the state, which saw tax revenues fall by 8.5% in 2020. Governor Gordon proposed budget cuts of up to 15% for agencies across the state last year. Most of the cannabis tax revenue would be used for education.
Wyoming’s tax revenues are notoriously limited when it comes to diversity: the state makes its money on oil and gas, and that’s it. Earlier this year, the Biden government halted state oil and gas leasing and paused on nearly half a million acres of business. If the state oil and gas lease hiatus continues or becomes permanent, Wyoming will lose tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars each year.
What does the least populous state in the country do when it can no longer generate any income from oil and gas? Easy. Legalize cannabis.