A bill that would have reduced the penalty for many marijuana infractions died in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Currently, state law mandates anyone found with three ounces or more of marijuana be charged with a felony. HB 234 would have reduced that to a misdemeanor, along with the penalty for being caught more than three times with any amount of marijuana.
A misdemeanor is punishable by a jail sentence, while a felony can carry a sentence in prison.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill was intended to reduce the penalties faced by youth who may simply have made a mistake.
“Because we can handle crime and punishment with a misdemeanor versus sending someone to (the Wyoming State Prison in) Rawlins for marijuana,” he said.
But opponents said a number of steps must be taken before someone is convicted of a felony-level crime for possession of marijuana.
“To end up with a conviction on marijuana, there’s lots of other things that happen, lots of other circumstances that happen,” said Byron Oedekoven, director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. “It’s not just a simple mistake.”