Tonight's Casper city council meeting had several items on the agenda, but one that sticks out was accepting a grant from the DEA that gives the city $15,000 for the police to help "eradicate and suppress" illicit marijuana.

Chief of Casper PD McPheeters answered questions regarding the subject and clarified that the monies can be used liberally.

While they investigate marijuana busts they can also use those monies to intercept drug trafficking "across the board".

"In the process other drugs are discovered."

McPheeters vaguely referenced a recent and "very large investigation" they are currently dealing with as an example of the dangers of trafficking marijuana.

He claims that in their current investigation they have already expended four times the amount the grant would return.

"This grant would help free options up."

The Chief cited a Bureau of Statistics study going back to 1995 that suggests marijuana is the number one reason people were arrested for being under the influence. "More than 10X more than opiates, More than 10X more than hallucinogens" he said.

See the video here. It's about an hour and half in.

Mayor Cathey, the one who motioned to accept the grant, lauded marijuana suppression efforts saying that despite the fact that the grant is supposed to help eradicate marijuana, police are also finding fentanyl and coke.

Motion passed.

The Quagmires of Legal Cannabis

Things have seemingly turned lax over the past few years concerning "diet weed," or Delta 9 -- the product that was legalized in the state of Wyoming in 2021.

Its unadulterated cousin weed-weed, however, still remains very illegal in Wyoming.

Currently users popped with a possession charge pay a fine, maybe get arrested, and/or dispute the matter in court. Every so often they're booked into jail and wait until the crime lab comes back with the results. In the cases of Delta 9, the charges are usually dismissed -- but defendants never get their $60 vape back.

It gets hairy for folks on their way to a third possession charge, which is a felony in the Cowboy State that could put a person in prison for five years.

I began to wonder if the police can distinguish between legal THC products and non. I tried to ask the question as directly as possible to Casper Public Information officer Amber Freestone, but I did not get a yes or no answer.

To cut to the chase, the answer is no.

The same goes for most controlled substances. Law enforcement often does not have a way to differentiate between legal and non-legal cannabis products. The same goes for many controlled substances.

I reached out to the local D.A.'s office (6 months ago and more recently) and was told that they didn't have time to go over it with me right now.

Wyoming Crime Lab

I called Scott Williams, the State Crime Lab Deputy and Director. Mandy King, a chemist, joined the conversation.

They explained that the lab is currently only capable of testing plant material containing THC at a level that is controlled.

King explained that the lab can currently only test for Schedule I drugs in plant material.

“We don’t have the capability right now to do that in edibles or vape cartridges, or things like that.”

 

Only about 15% of what the Wyoming Crime Lab sees is fentanyl. 

Williams says the majority of what the Crime Lab looks at, by far, is Delta 9 THC.

Out of all the THC products that come across their desk, including oils, edibles, and vape cartridges, the bulk -- by far -- is "plant material".

From Valentine's Day in 2023 to Valentine's 2024 the lab says they identify an average of about 185 pieces of evidence as Delta 9 THC per month.

“We are seeing, over the last year about 185 per month that were Delta 9 THC (a legal product)” “from Valentine’s day last year to Valentine’s Day this year. 

I called up a few different providers of legal THC products. The owner of Platte Hemp, a Casper business, commented:

"I literally hear at least once a day that a customer has been wrongfully accused or even arrested and taken to jail for possession of legal hemp."

Romantic Cement Work from Corra's Creations

A family-run business in Casper offers unique pottery made of cement.

Gallery Credit: Kolby Fedore, Townsquare Media

Wyoming Black History in Pictures

Some of these pictures are part of a collection of photographs and negatives created and used by the Casper Star Tribune from 1967 until the middle of 1995 according to a newspaper article on the donation from February of 2000. In the words of Special Collections Curator, Kevin Anderson, the photographs serve to document "events in our own lives, events in our own history." Others come from a collection of photographs of people who lived in Casper's Sand Bar as found in the Walter R. Jones Papers available in and through the repository. Many others came from the Casper College Western History Center and the Wyoming State Archives from a wide-variety of original sources.

Gallery Credit: Kolby Fedore, Townsquare Media

Home Schooler Robotics Team Prepares for World Lego Competition

Gallery Credit: Kolby Fedore, TSM

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