Pubdate: Fri, 07 Aug 2015
Source: Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (WY)
Copyright: 2015 The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle


CHEYENNE - A Wyoming law enforcement group is planning a campaign to 
fight back at efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police is gauging 
interest in starting a statewide outreach effort to inform residents 
on the "harmful personal and societal effects of marijuana."

But Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the group, said he expects 
there will be support for the project and that it will be launched this month.

"We are looking for statements of support for this education 
campaign," he said. "We anticipate that there will be support, and 
armed with that grassroots support, we will undertake an educational campaign."

The association is encouraging local sheriffs and chiefs of police to 
bring the issue before their city councils and county commissioners. 
In the past week at least two cities - Worland and Torrington - have 
considered resolutions backing the campaign.

A letter from the association obtained by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle 
says the "purpose of this effort would be to get on the front end of 
a large-scale prevention movement by providing counter-marketing to 
the pro-legalization movement."

It goes on to state that "our residents are becoming de-sensitized to 
and/or disbelieving of the danger of marijuana use."

The law enforcement group's campaign comes as Wyoming voters could be 
asked to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana as early as 
November of next year.

The Wyoming chapter of National Organization for the Reform of 
Marijuana Laws must collect 25,673 signatures of registered voters by 
Feb. 8 to get the question on the ballot for the 2016 general election.

Gov. Matt Mead recently created a 20-person counsel - made up of 
state officials and policy experts - to look at all the pros and cons 
of legalizing marijuana.

But Oedekoven said there is still an "information gap" within the 
state in terms of understanding the effects and consequences of marijuana use.

"People are very surprised when they learn what is happening in 
Colorado," he said. "They are very surprised at the potency of the 
(amount of tetrahydrocannabinol in the drug.)"

Oedekoven said he isn't "100 percent sure" if all the state's 
sheriffs and chiefs of police will back the association's call to 
resist legalizing the drug.

But he said, "I am reasonably sure most, if not all, would welcome an 
educational campaign, regardless of their views."

Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick and Cheyenne Police Chief Brian 
Kozak could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police is also passing out 
letters that ask residents or groups to sign a statement that they 
support the association's effort "to inform citizens about the 
harmful health effects and negative social consequences of marijuana."

The document includes an option to donate $25, $50, $100, $250 or 
another amount to the association.

It also directs readers to a website,, that is 
hosted by the Campbell County Prevention Council.

The site includes statements, such as "marijuana kills," and it cites 
statistics showing that traffic fatalities and emergency room visits 
have spiked since Colorado legalized medical marijuana.

Chris Christian, executive director of Wyoming NORML, said touting 
these types of stats is disingenuous.

"I would like them to list the dangers of marijuana use," she said. 
"Because I can refute every one of them."

Oedekoven responded by saying that the association is only using 
reliable and current data.

"We've been careful to use very clear standards and clear statistics," he said.

Christian said she has started a petition on to oppose the 
association's campaign.

"This is a self-serving campaign that does nothing for the people of 
the Wyoming," she said.

But Christian said the group isn't worried about convincing voters to 
support legalizing medical marijuana quite yet.

For now, she said, they are focused on getting the thousands of 
signatures needed by the February deadline.

That effort will begin Aug. 14. That is when the group expects to get 
the petition papers back from the printer. Christian said circulators 
will be in Cheyenne that weekend to collect signatures.

Circulators also will be at several other events throughout the state 
in coming weeks, she said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom