JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A recent arrest of a California woman has sparked controversy over whether Wyoming is too tough on cannabis, and whether local cops in Teton County and Jackson are too tough in general.
Nita Maddux, 50, was pulled over traveling through Jackson on her way from New Mexico to Montana. A Sheriff’s deputy noticed her expired California tags as Maddux was driving on S. Highway 89 near High School Road on the morning of July 8. He pulled her over, informing dispatch of his traffic stop at 10:30am.
The deputy said Maddux claimed she had forgotten her driver’s license at home but dispatch informed the officer that, too, was invalid.
Here is where stories diverge. Maddux, in recounting the incident for a GoFundMe page she has set up to help with her mounting legal fees, claims she was “all right with the expensive tickets,” but thought it would make more sense to pay them after her return to California.
The Teton County Sheriff’s Deputy says Maddux informed him she would not be back this way again anytime soon including making any court appearance to pay some $850 in fines she was facing for having no insurance, no driver’s license and expired tags.
“She made statements saying she would not come back for court so it gave us no choice but to take her into custody,” Undersheriff Matt Carr told Buckrail.
“He did not offer a ticket, instead, he arrested me,” Maddux says.
During her arrest, as a matter of protocol, Maddux was searched. It was then the cannabidiol (CBD) oil was found, resulting in an added felony charge for possession of a controlled substance (THC) in excess of three grams.
Maddux says she was carrying the so-called CBD oil to use if needed as pain management for a back issue during her long drive.
“I had a 10-milliliter bottle of hemp-derived CBD oil in my bag. At my job in New Mexico we were often sent samples to the store, and I had thrown it in for back pain on the long trip. I have a major disc injury on my back,” Maddux stated.
CBD is fast-becoming a popular alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties. Users of CBD derive pain relief, reportedly without the psychoactive effects associated with THC found in marijuana or hemp.
Most CBD oils are sold with trace amounts of THC (.3 percent or less). Some claim to have no THC at all.
Maddux says she thought nothing of the product since it is shipped to all 50 states by mail order and she saw the exact same brand on sale throughout Wyoming. Local grocers Lucky’s and Whole Grocer stocked it until they were made to remove the product recently by local law enforcement.
At issue is Wyoming’s relatively tough stance against pot. Since bordering Colorado legalized marijuana, Wyoming has seen an increase in the drug being both trafficked instate and innocently brought here by Colorado natives.
Efforts to legalize marijuana in Wyoming have gone nowhere in recent legislative sessions. And just this past April, the state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) issued a warning that cannabidiol oil products containing any amount of THC are illegal in Wyoming.
Maddux’s bottle of CBD tested positive for THC, according to Carr, resulting in the added felony charge.
The whole experience rattled Maddux who said she has no criminal record and has never even been pulled over before.
“I find myself in a challenging, and surreal situation,” she stated.
Additionally, Maddux claims her incarceration at the Teton County Detention Center, which lasted three days, was excessively harsh.
Maddux says she was held an initial 12 hours without ever being told what for. The next three days in jail weren’t much better.
“I was on my cycle and given no feminine supplies for 24 hours. When I was asked if I had dietary needs, I mentioned I was vegetarian. I was told they did not do lifestyle diets,” Maddux claimed. “I was on a small plastic mat on the floor for two days. When I was finally released at 11pm, I was wearing just the yoga dress, now stained with blood, and had to walk 15 miles to my friend’s house where I was staying. The cabs in Jackson had just stopped running to out of town.”
Maddux says she hasn’t decided whether to hire a lawyer and fight the charges or plea down to a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, Carr said, “I don’t think we will be making a case of it.”