Medical Marijuana in Missouri – Not Legal Yet

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, but not yet in Missouri.

Where is Medical Marijuana Legal?

A federal law makes it illegal to possess or distribute marijuana in the United States, but some states contradict federal law and permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all allow the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain, anxiety and nausea in people suffering from such diseases as cancer, glaucoma, AIDs, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Of those 18 states and the District of Columbia, 12 of them allow dispensaries to sell medical marijuana.

A recent New York Times article about medical marijuana and the federal government’s crackdown on dispensaries in California reports that DEA agents closed over 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in California within the first 7 months of 2012.

Where is Marijuana Legal for Recreational Use?

Colorado and Washington voted on November 6, 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by anyone age 21 or over. In both of these states, you can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. If you want to grow your own, Colorado limits you to 6 pot plants per person. (Washington does not allow cultivation of marijuana plants.) State-licensed stores in Colorado and Washington can sell cannabis and charge a tax on each sale.

In addition to Colorado and Washington, Oregon also had a proposition on its ballot in November 2012 to allow the recreational use of marijuana, but voters failed to approve it.

States Trend Toward Legalization of Marijuana

It is clear that the trend among the states is toward permitting the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, even though the federal government opposes its decriminalization:

  • Medical marijuana initiatives were on the ballots in 3 states in the November 2012 national elections. Of those 3 states, Massachusetts voted to allow medical marijuana use, joining 17 other states and the District of Columbia that already allow it.
  • In November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legally permit the recreational use of pot.
  • A Gallup poll released in October 2010 showed that 46% of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana.
  • The Department of Justice stated in 2009 that medical marijuana would not be a law enforcement priority.
  • Several years ago, California lowered its penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana to be equivalent to a speeding ticket penalty.
  • In Denver, Colorado there are more than 300 medical marijuana dispensaries. According to an article in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, Colorado is the state with the largest per capita use of medical marijuana in the United States.

Will Missouri Legalize Marijuana?

A bill was proposed in the House in January 2012 to allow the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in Missouri and to give seriously ill people the right to grow a small amount of marijuana for their own use, but that bill was not given a hearing and is now considered dead.

Missouri supporters of the legalization of marijuana tried to get a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot to legalize marijuana in Missouri for medical and recreational use. The group backing the initiative obtained 65,000 signatures from Missouri residents, but failed to obtain the required 150,000 signatures needed by the May 2012 deadline to get the proposed amendment on the 2012 ballot.

Missouri Penalties for Marijuana Possession

A Missouri judge can sentence you to up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine for misdemeanor possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana is a Class C felony in Missouri, punishable by up to 7 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you are convicted of marijuana possession in Missouri, that conviction will remain on your permanent criminal record forever and it can never be expunged (removed).

A Lawyer Can Help Get Your Missouri Marijuana Possession Charge Reduced

If you are charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) in Missouri and you don’t have any prior convictions for drug-related offenses on your record, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to have the drug possession charge reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” You will also have to pay a fine and court costs.

Minors (Under Age 18) With Marijuana Possession Charges

If a person under age 18 is charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia (such as a pipe), it is very likely that an attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get the charges reduced or dismissed, although the defendant might have to serve a period of time on probation, attend a drug education class, and pay a fine, in exchange for having the drug possession charges dismissed.

Drug Possession Charges Stay On Your Criminal Record Forever

Some types of convictions, such as first-time misdemeanor DWI/DUI or MIP (Minor in Possession) can be expunged (removed) from your permanent criminal record under certain circumstances, but convictions for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia in Missouri will stay on your criminal record forever. Having a drug possession conviction on your criminal record may prevent you from getting a job, obtaining credit at a bank, or being accepted into college.

See my previous blog post for more information about what to do if you are charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri.

Call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri. Or email Andrea at [email protected]

[This blog post was updated on December 28, 2012.]


Some Drug and Alcohol Convictions Stay on Your Missouri Driving Record Forever

The following drug & alcohol-related convictions stay on your Missouri driving record forever:

    • DUI/DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)
    • DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs)
    • Excessive BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)

Please Note:  It is possible to get a first-time DUI conviction expunged after 10 years of good behavior. (See below for further information regarding expungement of a first-time DUI.)

Types of Convictions That Stay on Your Missouri Driving Record Forever

In a previous blog post about convictions that stay on your driving record forever, I listed the types of convictions that remain permanently on your Missouri driving record. In addition to DUI, DUID, and Excessive BAC, the following convictions stay on your Missouri driving record forever and are not eligible for removal:

    • No Insurance
    • No Driver’s License (state, not municipal)
    • Vehicular Manslaughter
    • Driving While Suspended or Revoked
    • Leaving the Scene of an Accident (state, not municipal)
    • Any Felony

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the removal or deletion of all court records of your arrest, plea, trial or conviction. The only types of alcohol-related convictions that are eligible for expungement in Missouri are first-time DUI or MIP convictions. The option of expungement is not available for felony DUIs or for anyone convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

How to Get a First-Time DUI Conviction Expunged

Missouri law allows anyone who pleaded guilty to, or was convicted of, a first-time misdemeanor DUI to apply to have the court expunge (remove or delete) the DUI charge 10 years after the offense occurred, as long as the individual has had no other alcohol-related driving convictions, “alcohol-related enforcement contacts,” or any pending “alcohol-related enforcement actions” within the 10-year period since the conviction. See Missouri statute RSMo 302.525.3 for an explanation of what is an alcohol-related law enforcement contact.

If a judge finds that you meet these requirements, then the court will enter an order of expungement, and all records of your DUI arrest, plea, trial, or conviction will be deleted.

How to Get an MIP Conviction Expunged

For a first-time MIP conviction to be expunged, you must show that you have had no other alcohol-related convictions or “alcohol-related enforcement contacts” since the original MIP conviction, and that you are applying for expungement at least 1 year after the original conviction date, or after you have reached age 21.

Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia Convictions Stay on Your Criminal Record Forever and Can Not be Expunged

If a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop and charges you with possession of drugs (marijuana) or drug paraphernalia (such as a pipe) and you are convicted of those charges, no points will be added to your Missouri driving record for that conviction. However, a conviction for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia will remain on your criminal record forever.

An Attorney May be Able to Get Your Drug Possession Charges Reduced to a Lesser Offense

When facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, you can hire an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get your drug charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, so they won’t show up on your permanent criminal record. Keep in mind that your chances of success are not as good if you have multiple prior drug-related convictions on your record.

The outcome of your case depends on which court your case is being prosecuted in, your criminal history, and the details of your specific case.

While expungement is an option for some first-time DWI or MIP convictions, drug-related convictions can never be expunged from your Missouri criminal record.

The Court May Order You to Attend “ADEP” or “SATOP” Class

If your attorney is able to get your drug possession charges reduced to a lesser offense, you will have to pay a fine and court costs, and you may also be required to take a court-ordered class, such as “ADEP” (Alcohol and Drug Education Program) or “SATOP” (Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program).

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be offered an “SIS” (Suspended Imposition of Sentence) and 1 or 2 years of unsupervised probation. With an “SIS,” no conviction is entered on your permanent record if you successfully complete your period of probation without any further convictions.

If You Have Already Pleaded Guilty to Drug Possession Charges, an Attorney May be Able to Withdraw Your Guilty Plea

If you have already pleaded guilty to drug charges, it may be possible for an attorney to withdraw your guilty plea and negotiate a plea bargain with the court to have your drug charges reduced to a lesser offense.

However, if too much time has passed since your guilty plea, or if you were originally represented by an attorney when you pleaded guilty, the court may not allow the withdrawal. For more information, go to the Withdrawal of Guilty Plea page on my website.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia and would like a price quote for legal representation, contact St. Louis traffic law attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected]

[This post was updated on November 11, 2013.]