CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper Police Department will be awarded $35,000 from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The funding will be available to reimburse officers for overtime when they “are directly involved in the eradication and suppression of illicit cannabis,” according to a memo from Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters.

The Casper City Council approved the acceptance of the DEA funding during their Tuesday, Feb. 2 meeting as part of the council’s consent agenda list. Two council members, however, voted against authorizing the acceptance of the funding.

Council members Shawn Johnson and Amber Pollock voted against the acceptance of the funds.

Since the majority of council approved the full consent agenda list, the Casper PD will be authorized to accept the DEA funds. The funding is available to cover overtime costs for officers involved in marijuana investigations for the time period between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.

A recent survey by the University of Wyoming’s Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) found that’s 54% of Wyoming residents support allowing adults in Wyoming to legally possess marijuana for personal use.

According to a UW press release in Dec. 2020, the survey results point to a trend in which more and more people in the state approve of marijuana legalization. That trend has been observed through 2014, 2016 and 2018, when support rose from 37% to 41% to 49%, respectively.

Across age groups, there is a statistically significant decline in support as age increases.

The percentage of support for legalization among age groups is as follows:

  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 67%
  • 25- to 34-year-olds: 74%
  • 35- to 44-year-olds: 68 %
  • 55- to 64-year-olds: 51%

Groups showing less than a majority in support in favor of legalization is as follows:

  • 45- to 55-year-olds: 45%
  • 65- to 75-year-olds: 40%
  • 75 years-old and older: 30%

According to Rodney Wambeam, a senior research scientist at WYSAC,  the support for recreational marijuana use reflects a decrease in the perceived risk or harm related to the drug, UW said.

“Despite the increasing dangers of marijuana use, such as addiction or drugged driving, young people in particular seem to view marijuana as a safe and natural alternative to alcohol or other illicit drugs,” Wambeam said.

A large majority (85%) of Wyoming residents say they support the legalization of doctor-prescribed marijuana for medical purposes, comparable to the 86% who supported that measure in 2018.

75% of Wyoming residents believe that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not serve time in jail, the survey found. This has increased from 69 percent in 2018 and from 66 percent in 2014, UW said.

“As laws regarding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana change around the U.S., especially in nearby states, it’s not surprising to see attitudes in Wyoming change as well,” says Brian Harnisch, a senior research scientist at WYSAC. “In all bordering states except Idaho, marijuana or medical marijuana has been legalized to some extent or decriminalized.”

Data set:

The statewide survey was conducted Oct. 8-29, yielding 614 responses from randomly selected Wyoming citizens, UW said. The margin of error for the distribution of responses on any individual survey question is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Men and women from all age groups are represented, and all counties in Wyoming are proportionally represented in the survey sample. The final survey data have been weighted to reflect the actual population distribution in Wyoming on these key demographic characteristics.

Both landline and cellular telephone numbers were randomly generated for the study, resulting in 82 percent of completed surveys on cellphones. The survey is funded by WYSAC and UW’s School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies. University of Wyoming

The complete survey results are available here.