Byrd Not Giving Up on Pot Bill

Cheyenne, WY (KGWN) - Wyoming State Representative James Byrd says he's not giving up on his bid to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 49 failed introduction by a 45-15 vote during this year's budget session. The bill would have made it a civil penalty to possess an ounce or less of pot. Under current law, it's a felony to possess more than three ounces of marijuana, and a misdemeanor that could lead to jail time for smaller amounts.

"Just from a fiscal standpoint, changing that to just a regular ticket seems like the prudent thing to do," said Byrd. "The states surrounding us are changing their marijuana laws and now what we've become is the entrapment state."

Byrd says he's not trying to legalize pot, just minimize penalties on small amounts because those people are not hard-core drug dealers.

"We are litigation happy. We love to throw people in jail, arrest them and give them maximum penalties for what are really considered some minor offenses," said Byrd. "This is a terrible precedent in town that the legislature sets for putting penalties on statutory crimes. So I think it's time to go back and not just look at the criminalization of marijuana, but a lot of other things that we just really hammer an individual on making a minor mistake for."

If re-elected, Byrd says jobs, education and family will continue to be his top priorities. The Laramie County Democrat is running for his fourth term.

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