The Missouri Legislature recently reduced the penalties for first time marijuana possession. Beginning this year, a first time offender in possession of up to ten grams of marijuana will only face a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500, with no jail time. Kansas City went further than the state and limited penalties for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana to a $25 fine with court costs. This Kansas City punishment treats the conviction similarly to a minor traffic violation, but it is still a drug conviction.
A Lesser Marijuana Penalty Still Results in a Drug Charge
The opportunity to pay a lesser fine or avoid jail time may cause more Missourians to plea to lesser offenses involving marijuana charges without checking with a criminal defense attorney first. The problem is that a lesser marijuana penalty still results in a drug charge. This will affect future job and school applications, and remove any ability to qualify for federal aid for college. A drug charge, no matter how minor, could create negative results when applying for professional licenses, financial aid, jobs, and housing. It could also hurt your chances in future custody matters involving your children.
Missouri Marijuana Charges
Those charged with possession of over 10 grams of marijuana and less than 35 grams could still receive a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000. A person charged with marijuana possession of 10 grams or less, who has a prior marijuana possession conviction, could still receive a Class A misdemeanor. Possession of greater than 35 grams of marijuana could result in a Class D felony conviction with a maximum punishment of up to 7 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. A Missourian under the age of 21 with a marijuana possession conviction could actually lose their driver’s license for 90 days or for up to one year for a second offense under Missouri’s “Abuse and Lose” laws.
Marijuana Use in Missouri is Still Illegal
Make no mistake about it, medical and recreational marijuana use in Missouri is still illegal. Many elected officials in Missouri are resistant to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana use, despite the increased public support to do so. Other states, like Colorado, have reaped the benefits of an increased tax base resulting from the decriminalization of marijuana, while Missouri still loses millions of dollars in prosecution and incarceration costs through enforcement of outdated marijuana possession laws. Several advocacy groups have organized petition efforts to take the issue of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana decriminalization to a vote of the people in Missouri.
Call Day or Night for a Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have questions about a marijuana charge, contact criminal defense lawyer Chris Benjamin for a free consultation. Call 816-738-5725 or navigate to our contact page to find out how KC Road Lawyers can help you.