A sign for a practice the prescribes medical marijuana. (Thomas Hawk/Flickr CC)

The House Judiciary Committee’s vote to move House Bill 209 – Regulation of marijuana to the floor finally exposes the medical marijuana myth. 

Let me explain. HB 209 is an 85-page document that, if passed, will allow full legalization of marijuana and retail sales in the state. For an unknown reason this bill is modeled after a Virginia bill that just passed a few weeks ago and is scheduled to be implemented over the next several years. In other words, an untested blueprint. 

It would also make Wyoming the first state to legislatively go straight to full legalization without the Trojan Horse intermediate step of legalizing medical marijuana first. According to WyoFile, a marijuana lobbyist, Christine Stenquist, acknowledges Rep. Jared Olsen’s (R-Cheyenne) bill takes a stride beyond the usual decriminalization approach, which is to start with a baby-step of medical authorization. “This is a retail bill,” she says.

Of the 30 plus states that allow some type of medical marijuana, all but one state’s measure was accomplished by public referendum, not legislative action. The marijuana industry has targeted mostly those states that allow a public referendum because they have not had success getting laws passed through deliberative legislative bodies. The referendum process bypasses informed debate. Of those states now allowing medical marijuana, over a dozen have been subsequently successfully targeted to allow full retail marijuana, again accomplished by public referendum.

The medical marijuana myth has been shown to be the successful gateway to full retail marijuana, hence a Trojan Horse.

You may ask how this medical marijuana Trojan Horse relates to HB 209. Well, the sponsors acknowledge this bill may not pass, but it was passed out of the Judiciary Committee saying it should be brought to the floor for more debate and possible amendments. It’s a classic negotiating technique to ask for the moon (full retail) but settle for what you can get (medical).

Buried at page 48 in this bill is a medical marijuana provision under Article 5, 11‐52‐505. (Possession or distribution of marijuana for medical purposes permitted). It may be the hope from the sponsors that the poorly supported retail portions of HB 209 could be gutted by amendments leaving some type of medical exception as the heart of the bill that could get traction. This is the Trojan Horse.

This tactic exposes the myth of medical marijuana. I won’t debate the known, potential, or mythical medicinal properties of cannabis sativa. But, to be clear, whether “medical” or “retail,” it’s the same plant. Identical cannabis products are found in both retail and medical markets though they are marketed for different users. One popular emotional argument for “medical” marijuana is that people in need can’t get their “medicine.” Who wants to prevent that? That’s why polls show support for “medical” but less for retail.

However, if access to cannabis is the argument for medical, why would a bill whose stated outcome is retail access have a separate provision for medical? If one believed cannabis was medicine they could get it at any retail store, couldn’t they? Why have a separate medical provision? Trojan Horse anyone? 

Interestingly, during the pandemic, several states with both retail and medical marijuana closed the retail shops but declared the medical stores essential businesses. Guess what? Applications for medical cards went through the roof. Who knew so many users needed their medicine? Really, it’s all about getting access to the drug however it’s labeled.

Wyoming citizens need to closely watch the debate on this bill. It is a complicated and extensive bill and took time to craft, however, it was filed last minute. I believe this was done on purpose so as to limit public awareness prior to the hearings by the Judiciary Committee. The hearing combined HB 209 along with the postponed hearing on House Bill 82 – Implementation requirements for medical marijuana (a medical marijuana feasibility study). As the hearing opened Chairman Olsen stated that the merits of medical marijuana were not the heart of what comments he wanted to hear on HB 209. Yet, 80% of the testimony allowed had to do with mostly anecdotal information about the benefits of medical marijuana and not the retail aspects of the bill and almost nothing on HB 82.

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I guess the advancement  of HB 209 should have been expected. After all, Olson was the sponsor of HB 209 and left his chair to introduce the bill. Reps. Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie), Michael Yin (D-Jackson) and Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) were on the committee and cosponsors of this bill. That’s four votes in the bag before the hearing began.

Olsen then returned to his chair to direct the hearing on his own bill. I don’t know what the ethics involved here are, but it seems to me that a sponsor of a bill should not be involved in moving it through a committee he or she chairs. “Medical marijuana” may not be the only Trojan Horse at work here.

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  1. In 1995 there was a State Statute in Wyoming that a a person could have medical marijuana, but it had a catch 22. It had to be prescribed by by a Wyoming Doctor and they weren’t allowed to do so. What happened to that? Does anyone know if it was repealed or still stands? Ex MJ smoker for 30 years, honor student 4.0, Phi Beta Kappa, who’s who in Jr College with a high paying job before I had an on the job injury, and never, as implied by Richard Jones, moved on to harder drugs, was able to quit very easily when I had to and don’t use alcohol. Mother of 2 honor students and 2 college graduates.

  2. The medical benefits of all cannabinoids have been scientifically proven. No argument there. The fiscal benefits of retail sales of marijuana have been documented. Wyoming’s economy is in dire straits and it would be negligent to ignore the potential tax revenue generated by retail sales which is now bleeding onto surrounding states. This industry would generate one or more small business opportunities in every small town with hundread of new jobs and local tax revenue for struggling families. Pass this bill. Don’t raise taxes.

    1. “The medical benefits of all cannabinoids have been scientifically proven.” Really? Completly false. Medical research has not lived up to the hype. There is no evidence or authoritative
      recommendation to use whole-plant marijuana to treat any medical condition. The
      Surgeon General flatly declares that no amount of marijuana is safe for youth or
      pregnant women. Almost all “medical” claims for the benefits of marijuana are purely anecdotal. Marketers know that emotionally based personal stories are far more persuasive than facts.
      There have been a couple of FDA approved drugs made from the THC and CBD
      components of cannabis that are used for alleviating nausea and appetite loss
      associated with chemo and AIDS (Marinol). Also for treating seizures in two rare forms
      of childhood epilepsy (Epidiolex). The tax argument defies logic. Projected tax revenue is about $30 million before the regulatory costs are deducted. At best that amounts to 1/2 of 1% of the current state budget. Wow, what a windfall for only selling out public health and the damage done to youth.

  3. Very disappointed that wyofile would allow someone to post such disjointed garbage. Certainly is not the high standard we are used to seeing with this publication.

  4. This is ridiculous nonsense. You’re either intentionally making a bad faith argument or you’re completely ignorant. First, medical marijuana isn’t a myth. You won’t argue the medical benefits of cannabis because you don’t have a leg to stand on. Despite it’s federal schedule I status, there are plenty of proven medical benefits from components of cannabis and there’s plenty of promising research happening too. What’s a myth is that this plant has no known or recognized medical use.

    Second, there is a reason for the “trojan horse” inside this bill. There isn’t some conspiracy to “sneak” medical marijuana in behind recreational. Without the text in article 5, 11‐52‐505 doctors wouldn’t be able to prescribe or recommend any medical marijuana or products made from cannabis. Without this text we would potentially be the only state that allows recreational use and not medical. Seeing as you’re complaining about Wyoming not taking the intermediate step of allowing medical marijuana, I find it odd that you also choose to single out the text that allows for medical use and call it a “trojan horse”.

    It sounds like you just don’t like marijuana and are attempting to find any possible excuse to criticize this bill. Maybe instead of trying to misrepresent things you can just write “I don’t like it” next time. At least it would be intellectually honest. Unlike this misleading nonsense.

    1. He’s former law enforcement. He apparently hates change and bought into the lies that have been repeated since before Nixon added cannabis to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
      Practically every state that legalized cannabis saw the claims of increased youth use go unrealized.
      If you want to see how screwed up a medical cannabis system can be, just look to neighboring Utah. The state’s over-regulation has resulted in scarce product and high prices.
      Do it right, Wyoming. Don’t screw it up like Utah did. Free market is the way to go.

      1. You said “Practically every state that legalized cannabis saw the claims of increased youth use go unrealized.” Talk about lies. How about some facts.
        Major Effects on Youth
        ● They are 20X more likely to go on the harder drugs later in life.
        ● They are more likely to use tobacco and abuse alcohol.
        ● They are more likely not to finish high school.
        ● They will have less lifelong earning power.
        ● They have a greater than average risk of suicide.
        ● They have a greater risk of having a psychotic break and onset of schizophrenia.
        ● Some studies have shown a permanent 8 point drop in IQ among early users.
        ● Cannabis is addictive. 17% of users will be addicted. Even though most who use
        cannabis will not become addicted, almost all users of harder drugs use, or have
        used, cannabis.
        ● Youthful users are more likely to get addicted. Most research had been done with
        the lower THC content; but now, with the much higher content THC available,
        research and health statistics are showing even more problems with early age
        Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and Massachusetts posted increases in youth use
        over the previous year according to state-level data from the National Survey on Drug and Health (NSDUH). The most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the
        Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), finds that marijuana
        use in “legal” states among youth, young adults, and the general population continued
        its multi-year upward trend in several categories. Additionally, use rates in “legal” states
        continue to drastically outstrip the use in states that have not legalized the drug.
        NSDUH highlights include:
        ● Past-month marijuana use among young people aged 18-25 in “legal” states has
        increased 8 percent in the last year (30.94% versus 28.62%).
        ● Use in this age group is 50 percent higher in “legal” states than in non-legal
        states (30.94% versus 20.66%).
        ● Past-month youth use (aged 12-17) in states with commercial sales continued its
        recent upward trend.
        ● Since last year, “legal” Washington experienced the largest surge in past month
        youth use with an 11 percent increase (9.94% versus 8.96%).
        ● Colorado experienced a four percent increase (9.39% versus 9.02%). ●
        Massachusetts overtook Colorado as the top-ranking state for overall first-time
        use, which is now number two.
        ● Past-month youth use in “legal” states is 40% higher than in non-legal states
        (8.92% versus 6.26%).
        ● Past-year youth use in “legal” states is roughly 30% higher than in non-legal
        states (15.82% versus 12.10%).
        Colorado has the highest youth rate at 17%, twice the national average. Prior to
        legalization Colorado was one of the lowest in the nation.

    2. Yeah I was confused by this as well.
      The author repeatedly calls this bill a “Trojan Horse”, but then goes on to describe an apparent ‘ruse’ by legislators that more closely resembles Monty Python’s Wooden Rabbit…