Wyoming remains one of the few states in the US that has not embraced marijuana legalization in any capacity, including for medicinal purposes. However, this does not imply a lack of cannabis consumption in the Cowboy State. A recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that one specific city in Wyoming surpasses all others in marijuana use.
Drawing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2018 – 2019 estimates, the study evaluated marijuana usage per 10,000 individuals aged 12 or older across all 50 states. The analysis considered usage in the past year, past month, and initial use within the past 24 months, presenting overall figures for each state.
According to the study, Wyoming ranked 47th nationally for marijuana use in the past year, with 1,150 users per 10,000 people, totaling 67,000 users. In the past month, the state secured the 48th spot, registering 664 users per 10,000 people, or 39,000 users. For first-time marijuana use in the past 24 months, Wyoming ranked 44th, reporting 114 users per 10,000 people, or 7,000 users.
Cheyenne, the capital and largest city in Wyoming, emerged as the city with the highest marijuana consumption in the state. Despite Wyoming’s relatively low overall figures, Cheyenne’s population of around 64,000 accounts for nearly half of the state’s total marijuana users.
The study disclosed that Cheyenne recorded 1,562 marijuana users per 10,000 people in the past year, totaling 10,000 users. Over the past month, the city reported 902 users per 10,000 people, equating to 6,000 users. In terms of first-time marijuana use in the past 24 months, Cheyenne ranked highest with 149 users per 10,000 people, accounting for 1,000 users.
Several factors contribute to Cheyenne’s heightened marijuana use compared to the rest of the state. One plausible explanation is the city’s proximity to the Colorado border, where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Residents of Cheyenne may be crossing the border to procure or use marijuana legally, or possibly bringing it back to Wyoming unlawfully.
Additionally, Cheyenne’s urban and diverse demographics may influence its cultural and social attitudes towards marijuana. The city boasts a higher percentage of young people, minorities, and college-educated residents, groups that often exhibit more favorable views on marijuana.
A third factor is Cheyenne’s history of progressivism on social issues. While a marijuana decriminalization ordinance was considered in 2023 (though ultimately rejected), it highlighted the city’s willingness to explore alternative approaches to marijuana-related matters.
The revelation that Cheyenne leads in marijuana use within the state carries implications for both the city and Wyoming as a whole. On one hand, it may signify the city’s progressive stance and its alignment with the national trend of marijuana legalization. On the other hand, it could expose the city to legal and health risks given Wyoming’s strict anti-marijuana laws, potentially leading to conflicts with the state government.
SAMHSA’s study may stimulate discussions on Wyoming’s marijuana policies, given the evident demand and supply despite its prohibition. Advocates might leverage the findings to advocate for reforms, including medical marijuana, reduced penalties, or even full legalization. Opponents, in contrast, may use the study to support increased enforcement measures. Ultimately, the study’s impact extends to public opinion and may influence the political will of both residents and lawmakers, potentially prompting changes or maintaining the existing status quo regarding marijuana in Wyoming.