Wyoming State Rep. James Byrd introduced House Bill 29 to decriminalize simple marijuana possession on Jan. 14. The proposal was referred to the House Judiciary Committee the same day and they didn’t waste much time. The committee voted 7-2 in favor of a full House vote on Tuesday, but that’s where the progress ends.

Picture of State Representative Jim Byrd

Wyoming State Rep. Jim Byrd

The Republican-controlled Wyoming House voted down marijuana decriminalization on Wednesday. Ignoring a recommendation from the Judiciary committee to pass their amended version, the chamber voted (22-38) against moving it forward.

Wyoming marijuana offenders face stringent laws. Possession of up to three ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor criminal charge, with offenders spending up to one year in jail and paying a $1,000 fine. The penalty for being under the influence of marijuana — not addressed in most states — is 90 days in jail and $100 fine.

House Bill 29, as introduced, would have made possession of less than half an ounce of “marihuana” a civil penalty drawing a $50 fine instead of an arrest and criminal record. Offenders with between a half and full ounce of marijuana would be fined $100. House members voted against the bill even after those fines were increased five-fold in committee.

The bill’s status is listed as “postponed indefinitely.”


South Carolina

First-time offenders caught with an ounce or less of marijuana in South Carolina face a tough road. Simple marijuana possession results in a criminal misdemeanor charge, up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. If police catch them a second time, they face up to a year behind bars.

A new bill would reduce those penalties.

House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford co-sponsored the bill — H.B. 3117 — which was introduced on Jan. 13 and it was referred to the Judiciary committee for further consideration. He is one of four congressmen pushing for reduced penalties. The bill’s passage would make simple possession a civil violation, removing the criminal stigma.

If the bill is passes in its current form, offenders would still have to pay a fine of up to $200, but it prohibits police from detaining or arresting suspects solely for simple possession. A second offense would mean a fine up to $1,000, but still no criminal record or arrest. The decriminalization bill sets the limit for possession of hashish (marijuana concentrates) at 10 grams.

No hearing date has been scheduled. The bill’s future is uncertain.

Click here to view active marijuana-related legislation.


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