Many states have legalized or decriminalized the use of marijuana. However, marijuana possession in Missouri can still result in criminal charges that could impact opportunities and future job prospects. If you are facing drug charges in Missouri related to marijuana or other drugs, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm.
Possession of a Controlled Substance: Marijuana
Even a misdemeanor conviction for any crime will still result in a criminal record that could impact your future opportunities. A felony conviction has collateral consequences that could impair your opportunities and rights in housing, scholarships, employment, jury service, and gun ownership.
10 Grams or Less
A class D misdemeanor in Missouri will generally result in a fine of up to $500.
More Than 10 Grams up to 35 Grams
Possession of more than ten grams but 35 grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor in Missouri can include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
More Than 35 Grams
“The offense of possession of any controlled substance except thirty-five grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class D felony.”
The penalties for a class D felony include up to seven years in prison. However, the court has the discretion to impose confinement of not more than a year in county jail. Additionally, under Section 559.016, RSMo., a term of one to five years can be imposed for probation.
Marijuana Possession Laws in Missouri
Only possession of a small amount of marijuana is considered a low-level misdemeanor. However, possession of larger amounts of marijuana can be a felony, even if the defendant really only intended the marijuana for personal or medical use.
Drug possession charges generally depend on the amount of the controlled substance involved, processing the drug, prior criminal history, and whether or not the drugs were to be sold or used personally.
Amount of Marijuana Involved
The amount of marijuana involved has a direct impact on the level of criminal charges. Possession of less than 10 grams, or about ⅓ of an ounce, is a class D misdemeanor. Possession of 35 grams or less (but more than 10 grams) is a class A misdemeanor. 35 grams is about 1 ¼ ounces.
Possession of more than 35 grams is a felony. For a person who has only tried marijuana once or twice, 35 grams may seem like a lot. However, a regular or recreational user of marijuana may purchase more than 35 grams for personal use.
Example: John uses marijuana a few times a week to help him deal with stress. He regularly buys about a quarter ounce from a neighbor. John goes to the neighbor to buy a quarter ounce but the neighbor says he will give John a better deal if he buys 1 ½ ounces. John figures he won't have to keep going back to the neighbor if he buys more at once and agrees. The neighbor is acting as a police informant and John is arrested for felony marijuana possession even though he only intended to use it for himself.
Prior Drug Offense
Possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana is generally a class D misdemeanor. However, if a defendant has previously been found guilty of a drug crime in Missouri or other state, a second possession charge for 10 grams or less will be charged as a class A misdemeanor.
Cultivating or growing marijuana is a more serious charge. Under Section 559.055, RSMo., it is a felony to knowingly grow or attempt to grow marijuana in Missouri. The penalties for growing marijuana can be based on the amount. Growing 35 grams or less of marijuana is a class E felony. Growing more than 35 grams of marijuana is a class C felony.
Class C felony: three to ten years in prison
Class E felony: up to four years in prison
Growing marijuana within 2,000 feet of a school, college, or university is a Class B felony. The penalties for a class B felony include 5 to 15 years in prison.
Example: Laura is going to Metropolitan Community College and lives about a quarter-mile from the school. Laura is experimenting with hydroponics and decides to grow a couple of marijuana plants in her closet. Laura's roommate doesn't like the smell of marijuana and contacts school officials who call the police. Laura's small plants amount to about 50 grams and she is charged with felony marijuana cultivation.
Under Section 559.074, RSMo., unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class D misdemeanor. However, with a prior conviction for a drug crime, possession of drug paraphernalia can be a class A misdemeanor. Marijuana paraphernalia can include anything used to plant, propagate, grow, harvest, process, pack, or inhale a controlled substance, including:
- Roach clip
- Rolling papers
- Glass pipe
- Marijuana vaporizer
Drug Charges by City and County in Missouri
Another confusing aspect of marijuana possession in Missouri is that it can be treated differently in different cities or counties. Bigger cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, or Columbia are more likely to treat marijuana possession as a minor offense. This may include no jail time, a simple fine, or failing to prosecute charges. However, other counties or cities can still prosecute possession of a small amount of marijuana as harshly as the law allows.
Enhanced Criminal Charges Related to Marijuana
Many arrests involving simple possession of marijuana for personal use also lead to other criminal charges. This could include possession of other controlled substances, possession of a weapon, impaired driving, or evading arrest. Charges related to a marijuana possession offense may include:
- DUI or DWI
- Larceny or theft
- Drug sales
- Drug trafficking
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Resisting arrest
- Gun charges
When the police or highway patrol make an arrest, they may give prosecutors the probable cause to lay down a number of criminal charges. Prosecutors often use multiple criminal charges as a bargaining tool to get the defendant to plead guilty to a crime in “exchange” for dropping other charges.
Consult an Experienced Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer
Cass County criminal defense Higher Level Legal Law Firm has years of experience in defending those accused of drug charges, including marijuana possession and cultivation charges. Contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.