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Wyoming medical cannabis effort ending amid controversy

A coalition pushing the legalization of medical cannabis in Wyoming appeared to have had enough support this spring to qualify voter initiatives for the state’s November 2024 ballot.

But organizers say they received unclear direction from state elections officials about how many signatures from registered voters they actually needed.

So, barring unlikely help from state lawmakers or a legal challenge, this confusion – combined with limited time and resources to start a last-minute petition drive – will keep MMJ off the Wyoming ballot, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Earlier this year, Compassionate Options Wyoming, Wyoming NORML and the Wyoming Libertarian Party campaigned to qualify two voter initiatives for the 2024 elections:

  • One would have legalized medical cannabis.
  • The other would have decreased penalties for marijuana use and possession.

To qualify a voter initiative in Wyoming, organizers need to submit signatures from registered voters equal to 15% of the votes cast in the most recent general election.

According to the Star-Tribune, the “requirement based on 2020 voter turnout was 41,776 signatures.”

MMJ advocates gathered around 36,000 signatures as of their March deadline – a tally they believed would be insufficient to qualify the measures.

So they did not submit the signatures to state elections officials.

However, the threshold turned out to be only 29,730 signatures, according to information later published on the secretary of state’s website – a key detail organizers say was not provided to them during their signature-gathering campaign.

“The cannabis petitions HAD collected enough signatures to qualify, but the Secretary of State’s office prevented the certification of the petitions based on incorrect information,” Compassionate Options Wyoming said in a September statement posted to its Facebook page.

Though a NORML spokesperson told the Star-Tribune he believes the snafu was a legitimate mistake rather than deliberate subterfuge, the pro-legalization groups are now considering a lawsuit, the newspaper reported.

Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray said in a statement that the organizers’ claims are unfounded.

Neither adult-use nor medical marijuana is available in the state.

Despite a University of Wyoming poll showing that a majority of voters support legalization, the state is one of only 10 without any legal marijuana.

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