ROCK SPRINGS — Decriminalization of marijuana received support from a few residents at the Rock Springs City Council meeting Tuesday evening.
The Council is considering joining the Cheyenne City Council in drafting a letter in support of decriminalizing marijuana in Wyoming.Wyoming have opted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and items containing THC, the active chemical within the drug, to varying degrees. Despite several states decriminalizing possession and legalizing recreational use, federal laws still prohibit the possession of marijuana.
Prior to the public comment portion of the meeting, the Council listened to a presentation from the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police regarding marijuana statistics the organization compiled. Some residents in attendance questioned the association’s presentation, citing the medicinal uses and criticizing the pharmaceutical industry’s push of opiate-based pain medications.
Randall Tryzbiak, who runs a CBD shop near the Rock Springs Post Office, said the association’s presentation only focused on the negative aspects of cannabis and marijuana.
“Nobody has touched on the positives to cannabis,” he said. “It’s one of the oldest medicines known on earth.”
He said there are a number of misrepresentations about hemp, marijuana and cannabis, and told the Council he would be happy to educate the group about the positive aspects the drug can provide, saying the presentation would be between an hour and an hour and a half.
Jason Lee was much more pointed in support of the decriminalization of marijuana, citing statistics he found related to the overdoses on opiate-based pain medications. Lee said his wife was injured in 2009 and has had seven back surgeries since then. He said she lives in constant pain and will likely be in pain for the rest of her life. He said his wife was originally prescribed pain medications and said she used to take more than 3,000 pills a month.
“I watched my wife go through withdrawal. I have watched her go through the addiction problems. The suicidal ideations … trying to get her the help that she needs,” he said. “Until someone experiences something like that on a daily basis, you can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like to live though.”
He said he was able to get his wife away from opiate-based pain medications and accused pain management clinics of pushing opiates and drugs to pad their bottom line. He said his wife now uses Delta 8 THC products, which contain a chemical compound similar to the more traditional THC, but currently is sold as a legal alternative.
Commenting on the access minors have to marijuana and cannabis, Lee said they will always find a way to obtain it, likening the situation to similar cases with tobacco and alcohol. He believes it’s the parents’ and communities’ responsibility to educate people about the effects, but doesn’t think laws barring access will prevent minors from getting cannabis.
Mackenzie Bertagnolli also spoke in favor of decriminalizing, saying CBD has saved her life.
“I have attempted suicide three times in my life and I can say all the pharmaceutical drugs … if I was to do that, I can honestly say that I would not be here today,” she said.
She said her health conditions are improving as she isn’t taking opiates and other drugs. She also said her 25-year-old son has epilepsy, suffering from grand mal seizures every three months. She said he uses full-extract cannabis oil to manage his symptoms, saying it is helpful for him.
“I would like to see us move in a direction and get more education,” she said.
Councilman Tim Robinson said the issue is something that Wyoming’s residents need to vote on, urging people to speak with their legislators about decriminalization. He’s also certain he knows the outcome of that potential vote.
“I believe that ultimately, it would probably pass in one form or another,” he said.