If you have a medical marijuana prescription, it’s probably wise to stay off Wyoming’s roads.
The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that having a medical marijuana card is not a get-out-of-jail-free card within the state’s boundaries. The issue came up after Colorado resident Daniel Joseph Burns was pulled over for speeding just over state line in Laramie County in March 2009. The trooper who pulled Burns over said he smelled marijuana and, according to reports, Burns said he did in fact have some pot on him and that it was for medical use. Burns wasn’t lying — he did have a prescription issued by a Colorado physician. However, the cops didn’t care, and they charged Burns with felony possession for carrying 1 and a half pounds of the green stuff in his car.
Flash forward to 2011 when the Burns case landed in Wyoming’s high court, where the legal minds on the bench passed on what Burns was offering.
Wyoming statute reads that it is unlawful to possess marijuana “unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice,” but Wyoming’s high court ruled against Burns.
Justice Michael Golden’s opinion read that, “It is the State of Colorado that makes the final determination whether the patient qualifies for the registry card, thereby exempting the patient from criminal liability for possessing amounts of marijuana necessary for medicinal purposes.” Golden went on to write, “Clearly, therefore, the physician is not prescribing or ordering the possession of marijuana as contemplated by the language of” Wyoming law.
Colorado’s medical marijuana laws are among the most liberal in the nation. Since allowing “patients” to get cards issued by doctors in the state, dispensaries for marijuana have popped up all over the state. While it is obviously illegal to operate vehicles and other machinery while under the influence of the plant, if you have a card you can’t be arrested for possession. The Wyoming case is one of the first involving a Colorado pot card outside the state’s limits. It will be interesting to see if Burns decides to take his case to an even higher court (no pun intended this time). Next stop for this case is likely the U.S. Circuit Court and even perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court.