Legal Marijuana? When did this start?
The push for marijuana legalization is not new. As early as 1975, California started relaxing their marijuana laws, before legalizing medical marijuana in 2003 and recreational use in 2016. Other states followed. By May 2014, the Missouri Senate and House voted to reduce penalties for some marijuana-related offenses, though it did not take effect until 2017. Not too long after that, in 2018, Missouri voters passed a state constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, permitting medical marijuana use.
Where is this happening?
Kansas City started in 2017 with a vote to decriminalize possession of 35 grams or less, passing with 75% for and only 25% against. Instead of previous criminal penalties, offenders faced a $25 fine. Very recently, on July 9, 2020, the City Council of Kansas City, Missouri removed marijuana possession from the municipal code by a vote of 9-4. The city will no longer prosecute possession, which Mayor Lucas hopes will improve the relationship between the community and police. Mayor Lucas’ further efforts include the Marijuana Pardon Program, which gives the Mayor the power to pardon low level, non-violent, marijuana convictions.
What’s the deal?
Missouri marijuana users are not in the clear. Just because Missouri has relaxed their marijuana laws, does not mean marijuana is legal on the Federal level. The Federal and State laws vary greatly. At the national level, marijuana is still illegal and considered to have no legitimate medicinal value. Someone prosecuted in Federal court could be facing up to 20 years for a first offense, and/or a $1,000,000 fine. That is serious business! The good news is that the Feds are usually not strict about marijuana in states that have legalized marijuana.
Missouri Medical Marijuana Laws
Other laws still apply with regards to medical marijuana use. The Missouri Constitutional amendment only allows a person with a medical marijuana card to be in possession of up to 1 ounce. Without a medical marijuana card, you could still be charged with possession of marijuana. Even in cities that have decriminalized possession, you can still be written a ticket. It is still illegal to drive impaired under any circumstances and having a medical marijuana card does not exempt you. Obviously, when purchasing marijuana from a dispensary you will be transporting it home, but you should not transport more than what is necessary. When you do have it in your vehicle it is safest to have it in your trunk where it cannot be easily seen or smelled to prompt a search. It is also unwise to consent to a search of your vehicle. And, for good measure, make sure to give no reason for an officer to pull you over.
Gun Ownership and Medical Marijuana
The way things stand now, you cannot have both a medical marijuana card and firearms. When purchasing a gun, you are asked on the application about marijuana use. Even with the legal right to use medical marijuana, you will be denied the purchase of a gun. If you lie on the form, that is considered fraud and is punishable by law. It is against federal law to own a firearm and use a controlled substance, so your gun rights are taken away if you use medicinal marijuana.
Is that all?
Even when following state law, there is a risk of running into Federal trouble. The legal landscape has changed quickly over the last 10 years and it could change even more in the future. It is important to stay safe and informed about Missouri marijuana laws.
What if I have questions? – KC Road Lawyers is Here For You!
As with all legal matters, it is important to stay informed, but in a complicated world that is not always easy. Your best bet is to contact a qualified attorney with any questions or legal needs. You can contact attorney Chris Benjamin at KC Road Lawyers by calling 816-425-2420 / 660-679-4161 or navigating to our contact page for a consultation at the firm’s Lee’s Summit or Butler Missouri offices.