Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Wyoming residents should have the opportunity to use cannibis oil and similar products for certain medical needs, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

"This should be an option other than prescription drugs," Amber Sparks said.

Sparks and other supporters of a proposed initiative to legalize medical marijuana gathered at Conwell Park at East Second and Conwell streets on Saturday morning and afternoon to distribute petitions and collect signatures.

Thursday, the Wyoming Secretary of State told the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) it could begin collecting signatures for the initiative. Wyoming NORML must collect nearly 25,700 signatures of registered voters by February 8, 2016, in order to get it on the ballot. The group intends to double that number to ensure it has enough valid signatures.

The Peggy A. Kelley Wyoming Cannabis Act of 2016 states: "Shall a law be enacted: (1) authorizing the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana for medical treatment, as regulated by the Wyoming Liquor Division; and (2) permitting the cultivation of hemp and the production of hemp products."

Wyoming NORML has launched or will launch similar petition drives in Laramie, Sweetwater, Fremont, Park, Sheridan, Uinta and Platte counties. Natrona County's Wyoming NORML leader Madalene Ordes said the petition drives will soon be in all counties. She suggested people learn more at the 420 Casper Facebook page.

However, the Wyoming Medical Society announced its opposition to the initiative on Friday: "The WMS opposes medical marijuana outside of the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration, recognizing however that marijuana may be an option for cannabinoid administration for children and adults with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions for whom current therapies are inadequate."

The Wyoming Medical Society also expressed concern that passage of such an initiative would lead to widespread recreational use of marijuana.

Not so, Sparks said. "There is no provision for recreational use in this petition."

If voters approve, Wyoming residents could grow hemp, she said.

Many people believe cannabis oil and similar products can be valuable in treating certain illnesses or alleviating pain that prescription medicines cannot, Sparks said.

"People here that need the medical help cannot get a constant supply," she said. "We'd like to see people choose."