councilmen to state reps: legalize it

Earlier this week, the town council invited state lawmakers and county commissioners for a discussion on the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Leland Christensen and Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Keith Gingery talked about bills they plan to work on and issues such as state funding for local government. The latter is nuanced and not very sexy but important for how the town and county provide services.

Bob Lenz

At the end, we addressed a topic a little more tangible: a pair of bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana. The first, to be sponsored by Rep. Sue Wallis, a Campbell County Republican, would permit medicinal or even recreational use, while the second, authored by Rep. James Byrd, a Democrat from Laramie, would lower the penalty for possessing small amounts to $50 or $100.

That I support such measures is hardly a surprise. But what raised eyebrows was when 81-year-old Councilman Bob Lenz, a retired pharmacist, emphatically weighed in.

“Just legalize it and tax it and control it,” Lenz said. “I think you save a lot of problems … I’ve never had a joint in my life, but [from] everything they tell me, everybody smokes it.”

Skip ahead to the 61:30 mark. The marijuana discussion lasts about 6 minutes.

When our reps were asked where they stood, Rep. Petroff responded unequivocally, in words that will bring a smile to Capt. Bob Morris. “I am not in favor of Prohibition,” she said.

(To be clear: I have spoken with Bob Lenz several times about this issue, and while he is a strong proponent of legalization as a matter of policy, he does not advocate that people use marijuana. Chronic use lowers IQ, he says, and smoking obviously causes other health problems.)

I’d be surprised if either bill passes the Legislature this session, but the House has a libertarian streak and might be swayed to advance the idea. Once states begin to see how much money is at stake, with tens of millions in new tax revenue in Colorado and Washington, change will come quickly. And as Lenz says, at least we’re having the conversation.

Other topics of interest from the meeting: Grand Teton National Park land transfer (1:30), local government funding (10:00), no levying of property tax in Jackson (23:30), small breweries (52:00) and electronic privacy (53:45).

As of Nov. 18, all council meetings are broadcast on video and archived at townofjackson.com/live. Anyone may share or embed links.

Update 1/28: Rep. Wallis died this morning at age 56.

Share

Posted under County Government, Crime, Politics, Town Government, Wyoming Legislature

17 Comments so far

  1. D January 23, 2014 6:06 pm

    Great job!

  2. Woolly the Mammoth January 23, 2014 9:25 pm

    Thank you Jim, Bob and Ruth Ann for your leadership on this issue.

  3. Legalize it January 24, 2014 7:19 am

    Stop calling them “our reps”

    These folks are only there to further their own career not serve the public.

    Try sending them a letter and see if you get a response.

  4. D January 24, 2014 11:29 am

    Like it or not they represent you. Thats why Jim deserves three cheers for doing it face to face not with a letter or email.

  5. Jim Stanford January 24, 2014 1:18 pm

    Thanks, D, but the legislators deserve the cheers for taking time to meet with us. Perhaps next year we can allot more time, invite Sen. Dan Dockstader and Rep. Marti Halverson of Star Valley, who represent the southernmost part of Teton County, and also invite the public to ask questions. With the new video streaming, I could envision taking questions by email, too.

    As for contacting reps, their phone number, email and mailing address can be found here: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/LegInfo.aspx

    I’ve generally found them to be responsive. Also, you could befriend them on Facebook, and they might even wish you happy birthday ;)

  6. John January 24, 2014 9:02 pm

    I applaud any and all discussion toward sensible marijuana policy in Wyoming. In my experience this state’s citizens and leaders, regardless of stripe, hold in high regard personal responsibility, freedom, sensible law-making, and prudent use of government resources. If these regards lead toward decriminalization and legalization, Wyoming will be a better place for it. Thanks, Jim.

  7. Phil a Buster January 25, 2014 7:59 am

    Three cheers for Bob Lenz!

  8. Oz January 25, 2014 5:35 pm

    D:

    Jim’s reference to our reps is at the state level.

    Jim’s doing a fine job. And the new meetings online is nice.

    I’m all for legalization because it makes jobs that require a drug-free work place less competitive. And it’s sort of like natural selection at work. The only problem I see is that the rest of us are now paying for their healthcare. Drugs are not safe.

    Bob hit it on the head but the fact is that more kids will be trying drugs if they are legalized. Drugs are not good for young developing bodies and brains.

  9. D January 25, 2014 10:45 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about? I never said anything about state or fed reps.

    On the other point kid do drugs, always have and always will. Is booze good for young kids? It’s a cost benfit analysis and the awnser is simple. We are wasting a ton of money on something that is proven to fail. It’s up to the parents, if your kids want weed they can and will get it. Legal or not. We not not talking about drugs in general we are talking about pot.

    If it ever goes national the drug free work place idea would have to change regarding pot as well. You can’t fire someone for drinking a beer 4 days ago, why would it be different with pot. Especially the medical side. It’s ok to take some Xanax and oxycodne and get a job, but heave forbid you use canabis.

  10. jd January 26, 2014 8:26 am

    Oz- drug are not safe? Which drugs are you talking about? persciption drugs kill thousands a year in this country. Alcohol and nicotine tens of thousands.Obesity, thousands. Marijuana? Zero. Its not weed smokers healthcare your paying for.More kids trying drugs if they are legal? What planet do you live on? They will try them regardless.

  11. dick January 26, 2014 6:49 pm

    All drugs that are regulated are unsafe – legal or not. Booze too. You can have a drink of beer and not get tipsy and not harm your developing body – it’s not the same with pot. Of course many kids smoke pot. It’s a pretty dumb idea too. I was happy to see the pot smoking art teacher getting busted.

    I think all kids should be drug tested every school year on a random basis and drug dogs should roam the halls.

    If kids want me paying for their education, then I expect them not use drugs during the school year.

  12. D January 26, 2014 7:46 pm

    Dick

    I think I should be able to search your car and use a breathalyzer on you any time you drive. I mean if I am going to pay for the roads why not?

    Personal freedom, responsibility, and the constitution be damned eh?

    Side note: NO ONE has said kids should or would be allowed to use drugs. I think everyone agrees that is not good a good idea.

    One more point you can have too many sips of beer and die, and you can’t do that with pot so…

  13. a fan January 30, 2014 1:46 pm

    Bob Lenz, sir, you had me at… “Just legalize it…”.
    I also like your white hat.

  14. Dave to D February 4, 2014 7:25 am

    LEGALIZE IT: “Stop calling them “our reps””

    D: “Like it or not they represent you.”

    OZ: “D: Jim’s reference to our reps is at the state level.”

    D: “I don’t know what you’re talking about? I never said anything about state or fed reps.”

    Clearly, you’re not following the conversation D. LEGALIZE IT and OZ, were referring to Jim’s use of “our reps”. Those reps were at the state level. When you said, “Like it or not they represent you”, who is “they”? The “they” everyone else was talking about were “our reps” at the state level. If you “never said anything about state or fed reps” then who and what were you talking about when you said, “Like it or not they represent you.”?

    D: “I think I should be able to search your car and use a breathalyzer on you any time you drive. I mean if I am going to pay for the roads why not? Personal freedom, responsibility, and the constitution be damned eh?”

    Drug testing is not uncommon in the workplace or schools. It’s perfectly legal. It’s also not going to stop drug abuse but it might identify drug users. DUI checkpoints stop all cars on a road and check on the mental state of drivers.

    Personal responsibility is fine but you rarely see adults or young people acting in a responsible manner without laws to guide them and penalties to motivate them. It’s why Jim helped pass a ban on cell phone use while driving. Young adults don’t have the same freedoms as adults because they are more likely to behave in immature ways. They are more likely to behave irrationally & impulsively – putting the health and welfare of themselves and others at risk.

    You may think there’s no negative effect on young people with legalization because it will still be illegal for kids to use drugs but you would be ignoring evidence to the contrary. As you said, kids are already using drugs. Now drugs are easier to get and less stigmatized. The impact of legalization on the health and welfare of young people is mostly negative. The reason so many young people use drugs illegally is because adults like yourself tolerate illegal use, mandate soft penalties, and fail to identify drug abuse. And many adults – perhaps even you and Jim – model poor drug behavior to kids. The issue with legalization is all about public safety and the impact on young people.

    Public safety goes both ways with legalization – good and bad. I happen to favor legalization (or decriminalization) for many of the same reasons BL probably does. Nonetheless, fewer kids would use drugs if they knew they would get caught and face humiliating & serious penalties (not a criminal record). I take the health and welfare of young people seriously. Folks like you make it all too easy for kids to screw themselves. Freedom and liberty have their limits. The constitution be damned? Sometimes it is. The constitution is an imperfect document which folks like you like to hide behind even if the constitution doesn’t support your point of view.

  15. D February 4, 2014 11:08 pm

    @Dave

    D: ” I don’t know what you’re talking about? I never said anything about state or fed reps.” Implying I know what Jim was referring to. I wasn’t debating the point.

    Dave: “Drug testing is not uncommon in the workplace or schools.”
    Work and public schools are two very different things. At what school is drug testing a common practice? Definitely not the majority which would make it uncommon.

    Dave: “And many adults – perhaps even you and Jim – model poor drug behavior to kids.”
    What behavior are you talking about? I don’t use drug or advocate the use of them by anyone. I am talking about one “drug”, pot and the negatives of prohibitions out weight the positives. Pot should be viewed similar to alcohol not “DRUGS”.

    Dave: “The constitution be damned? Sometimes it is. The constitution is an imperfect document which folks like you like to hide behind even if the constitution doesn’t support your point of view”

    Please support that allegation with any bit of proof. You have no idea what I stand for or believe in. You just make assumptions based on your own biases. I agree the constitution is an imperfect document. Thats why the framers gave us a way to change it. We need less nanny state and more personal freedom and responsibility. We don’t need a law for every little inconvenience and questionable behavior. I take the well being of everyone seriously as well, but l keep my rules and judgment on what is right and wrong to my own life and family. I don’t need daddy dave looking out for me.

  16. Rob W February 5, 2014 10:49 pm

    TL;DR

  17. joe February 5, 2014 11:55 pm

    ya gotta love all the giggles when the marijuana issue was brought up. Bob Lenz and the choom gang.

Leave a Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)

Website

Comments

More Blog Posts

Previous Post: