Cheyenne and Rock Springs weigh in on decriminalizing marijuana

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Jesse Rivera, [email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — The City of Cheyenne has begun drafting a letter in support of decriminalizing marijuana in the state of Wyoming and has asked communities across the state to support this idea. With the spark of conversation on the rise, the City of Rock Springs has also been discussing the pros and cons of decriminalizing marijuana and the impact that would have on the community. During a recent City Council meeting, some individuals came forward to share their stories and knowledge of the topic.

How the Conversation Started

In speaking with Wyo4News, Councilman Richard Johnson of the Cheyenne City Council explained that in 2016, he was a petitioner for The National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana. In working with the organization, he worked to get decriminalization on the ballot, but the motion failed. In early 2023, the Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM) held a regular meeting. While at that meeting, WAM was approached by the City of Jackson Hole as they brought forward a resolution to have the topic presented in front of the state legislators, but this motion also failed by one vote.

In March 2023, Johnson brought forward an ordinance change that would remove the city courts from hearing cases regarding marijuana. This would mean that if the city courts were unavailable, then police officers would need to take the case to the District Attorney’s office for further analysis in handling the marijuana possession. This motion also failed on a 6-3 City Council vote.

Two months later, after listening to the dialog of constituents coming forward to speak in front of the Cheyenne City Council this past March, the City Council made public comments that they did not want to address this issue in a city or municipality fashion but rather the topic should be addressed at a state level.

In June of 2023, Councilman Johnson drafted a resolution that stated that he would like Wyoming State Legislatures to re-open this topic. Once the resolution passed in Cheyenne, the topic was then brought up by Councilman Kyle Gamroth of Casper City Council. Gamroth felt Casper should consider looking at a similar resolution of support. This was when the Casper City Council expressed interest in drafting something similar to what Johnson had drafted previously.

Johnson explained, “As far as when Kyle and I have spoken, they have not done anything yet in Casper. But it was a topic of conversation, and he at least wanted to have a work session on it.” Johnson continued to explain that from this point forward, there has been a resolution that has been signed by the Mayor of Cheyenne and the Cheyenne City Clerk. Next June, WAM will hold its next annual meeting for all the towns to come forward. It is at this time that the City of Cheyenne can present its resolution. WAM would then review the resolution, and though this would most likely not be something done as an intern topic in 2024, it could be presented as something the municipalities were interested in for the general session in 2025.

This resolution is stated to decriminalize marijuana, not legalize marijuana. Johnson explained that he drafted this resolution to decriminalize because, ultimately, it is not his decision. Johnson’s only request in the resolution was for the topic to be reviewed and opened for discussion.

Cheyenne Public Response

When asked, “What is your community’s response to the topic?” Johnson explained that while in a meeting with the city court, statistics from a University of Wyoming study showed that around 83% of Wyoming residents favor some kind of decriminalization, whether medicinal or recreational. Additionally, there were 17% that were not in favor.

When asked, “How do you think this could benefit the State?” Johnson replied by explaining that it would just depend on the course of action that the legislators would take. With decriminalization from a law enforcement point of view, it would lower the amount of intakes through the court system on just the decriminalization. However, anything involving legalization, whether medicinal or fully recreational, would require a lot more moving parts on how exactly that would be enforced and what the regulatory environment would be.

 

Rock Springs Community Member Explains Personal Experience

Now that the City of Rock Springs has picked up on the discussion, Jason Lee, a local resident, recently approached the council to share the story of his wife, who was injured in 2009 and had seven different surgeries on her back. Lee said his wife was taking an abundance of medications to relieve the ongoing pain she would feel in her back every day. Due to being heavily medicated, Lee spoke about the problems he and his wife had to face, including withdrawal, addiction, and suicidal thoughts.

Lee expressed his frustration with pain clinics and how they are distributing medications to their patients, including his wife. Lee then continued by saying that the support they received from Randall Tryzbiak, with Randall’s Holistics, helped his wife get off the doctor’s prescribed medications that were negatively affecting her health. Lee says his wife is now taking Delta-8 at the legal limit.

Lee closed his presentation by reiterating the importance of educating our community on the benefits hemp products have on individuals rather than prescription medication options.

Rock Springs CBD Shop Weighs In

Tryzbiak also approached the Rock Springs City Council and informed them that he is the owner of a CBD-only shop in Rock Springs. Tryzbiak started by saying, “We only talked about the negatives of cannabis, and nobody touched on the positives of cannabis. Hemp, CBG, marijuana, that is all cannabis. It is one of the oldest medicines known on earth, and there are so many misrepresentations of it.” Tryzbiak then explained that he knew he needed to be brief but encouraged the council to allow him to educate them on cannabis.

In talking with Wyo4News, Tryzbiak expressed that he does not mind if marijuana is decriminalized or not. He explained that the products he sells in his shop will do the same thing as marijuana; however, what he provides in his shop is made up of different compounds than what is found in marijuana itself.

Tryzbiak explains that there are multiple compounds within a marijuana plant. These compounds are CBD and THC. CBD’s number one benefit is that it is a natural anti-inflammatory. This can be helpful, considering chronic inflammation plays a primary role in the development of many diseases. CBD also helps to treat anxiety and provides a more restful night of sleep with better quality of sleep.

On the other hand, THC does not heal the body, but THC does help manage pain, especially if paired with CBD and by micro-dosing, making it a better alternative to opioids. THC is also beneficial to mental stress, such as PTSD and trauma. One primary difference between the two compounds that can be identified is that THC is intoxicating, whereas CBD is not.

Tryzbiak expressed his issues with the marijuana industry, which lies in how the products that are in the dispensaries typically tend to have extremely high levels of THC and are simultaneously growing the CBD out of it. CBD negates the effects of THC. In the cannabis plant, there should be a 2:1 balance of two parts CBD and one part THC. This ratio is what has been proven to manage pain the best because you are fighting inflammation as well as managing pain at the same time.

Tryzbiak encourages users of cannabis, who may go to a dispensary for their products, to ask for a Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA is a breakdown of how much THC and CBD are present within the product that consumers are buying.

The Rock Springs City Council’s Response

After listening to each individual share their thoughts on the topic, Mayor Max Mickelson thanked those who took the time to come in and speak to the council and added, “There are a lot of issues that we deal with up here that are very black and white because we just have to follow state statute, and this is an issue where whatever opinion we end up sending to our legislators it is critically important that we know what the residents of Rock Springs want in this area.”

Councilman Tim Robinson spoke on how he agrees that this is something that needs to go up for a vote. Robinson strongly encourages the public to bring their thoughts on the matter to legislators for the matter to be put on a ballot because it is a topic that certainly needs to be discussed.

Final Decision

At this time, the Rock Springs City Council is researching and will eventually take a stance on whether they believe decriminalizing marijuana will be beneficial to the community. The final decision, though, will be made by Wyoming State Legislatures.