Possession of marijuana in St. Louis City will soon be considered a municipal ordinance violation, rather than a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. This means possession of a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis City will be treated less like a serious crime and more like a traffic ticket.
How Much is a “Small Amount” of Marijuana?
The new law does not specify how much a “small amount” of marijuana is. For now, that will be left up to the police officer to decide, until the police department issues a policy regarding the exact amount.
New Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect June 2013 in St. Louis City
On April 15, 2013, the Board of Alderman approved the proposed bill to make possession of a small amount of marijuana a municipal violation, and Mayor Slay has stated that he will approve it. The new law will go into effect June 1, 2013. Click here to read St. Louis City’s new marijuana law.
Columbia, MO has had a similar law regarding marijuana possession since 2004. Springfield, MO also approved the same type of law in 2012 but repealed it less than a month later.
Pot-Smokers Can Now be Charged Under More Lenient Municipal Ordinance
Currently St. Louis City does not have a local law prohibiting marijuana possession. Therefore, police have no choice but to charge offenders with a violation of the state law prohibiting possession of marijuana, rather than a violation of a municipal ordinance.
The prosecution of a state violation of marijuana possession is handled by the Circuit Attorney in state court, and the potential sentence is much more serious than if the defendant had been charged with a city ordinance violation in municipal court for the same offense.
In Missouri state court, misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) is a crime punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. In municipal court, the maximum penalty for the same amount of marijuana is 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.
Police Can Begin Issuing Tickets For Possession of Marijuana in June 2013
In the past when a police officer caught someone with a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis City, the officer frequently would let the person go free, rather than charging them under the more harsh state law. When the new law takes effect in June, police officers will be allowed to issue tickets to pot-smokers for municipal ordinance violations instead of state violations, and no arrest will be necessary.
Convictions For Possession of Marijuana Stay on Criminal Record Forever
If convicted of marijuana possession in state court or municipal court, you will have a drug conviction on your permanent criminal record. That conviction can never be expunged (removed) from your criminal record, and it can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a loan, being accepted into college, or getting a federal student loan.
For more information about St. Louis marijuana laws, or for a price quote for legal representation if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059, or email Andrea at [email protected].