Missouri: Lawmakers Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalties, But Legal Relief Still Remains Years Away

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 21, 2014

    Legislation revamping Missouri’s criminal code became law last Tuesday, absent the signature of Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon.

    Lawmakers and advocates spent some eight years drafting the legislation, Senate Bill 491, which significantly revises the state’s criminal code for the first time in over 30 years. Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets served on the Missouri Bar Association Committee that authored many of the criminal code revisions.

    Provisions in the measure amend marijuana possession penalties. At present, the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis is classified as a Class A criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to a one-year incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Under SB 291, the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis will be reclassified as a Class D misdemeanor (the lowest criminal classification available), punishable by a fine, but not the possibility of jail time. However, the possession of greater quantities of cannabis will remain a Class A misdemeanor offense.

    In 2010, Missouri police made nearly 18,500 criminal arrests for marijuana possession offenses, one of the highest totals in the country.

    Separate provisions in the bill amend Missouri’s “prior and persistent drug offender” law. The changes eliminate the mandate that persons convicted of a drug felony offense for the third time are not eligible for probation or parole.

    Unfortunately, despite the passage of SB 491, Missouri residents ought not to expect legal relief any time soon. That is because the changes to the Missouri criminal code do not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017. Consequently, local activists are continuing their push for a potential 2016 legalization initiative.

    34 responses to “Missouri: Lawmakers Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalties, But Legal Relief Still Remains Years Away”

    1. Anonymous says:

      Fuck the government wasting money time in our f****** court system. just f****** legalize it.

    2. Mike L. Wallace Jr. says:

      Marijuana – The Safest Most Beneficial Medicine on the Planet. Recreational Use Prevents Cancer Cell Growth. Ingesting Raw Unheated Marijuana is a Necessary Part of the Human Diet Especially for the Developing Minds of Children. Young People Share Tobacco Cigarettes to Cover Up the Smell of Marijuana because it is illegal & become Addicted to Tobacco. Are Missouri Lawmakers Returded ?

    3. dk says:

      Jan. 1, 2017. Amazing. I’m betting that marijuana will be rescheduled before or on that date.

    4. Robert Jeffries says:

      Alright, Missouri is headed in the right direction. It’s only a matter of time before the next wave of states legalize and, I only hope Missouri follows up with being a part of that.

      Prohibition is a dying relic from a dark time in our history and I want to see it defeated utterly.

    5. Ray says:

      Once New York goes medical (this summer) and Congress is stacked in favor of legalization (because we voted that way) this November, then none of this “penalty” shit matters anymore. Veterans will get help for PTSD, children will get CBD oil and no longer die from epileptic seizures, and people in pain will have a better option than opiate based pills.

      If the bill gets to Cuomo’s (D) desk this summer and he does not sign it, then his republican competitor is our next option this November. He knows this and he’s ready to sign it into law.

      New York is moving this bill through thanks to people like Diane Savino (D) and Liz Kreuger (D), and yes a Republican William Larkin. These forward thinking compassionate people know the value and potential this wrongly accused drug has when inside our bodies.

      If we want to stop the heroin epidemic then we need to stop it at the source, our hospitals and doctors! If offered a safer option (by safe I’m saying “will not kill me if overdosed”) then where do I sign up. As a side effect codine jams up the human bowels like concrete and can lead to more pain while cannabis does not.

      Given the fact that cannabis is less dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol we need to rethink our laws. As a parent of teenage boys I’m concerned about them smoking pot, but not enough to deny someone suffering from cancer, dravet syndrome, MS, HIV, glaucoma, diabeties, Alzheimer’s, dementia, neuropathy, anorexia, migraines, pms, PTSD, depression or Parkinson’s their rights to relief.

      Tell Nancy Grace about the children, let her watch Dr. Gupta’s “Weed” documentary. After watching a baby seize for a minute she would grow it herself if she could.

      The people who set these laws in place are all dead now, there is no one left alive to blame. We are a whole lot smarter now than we were in the 1930’s, so why are we still enforcing a non scientific law based on fear and racism?

      So goes New York, so goes the Nation.

      @Julian-Keep your voice heard, you are fighting an uphill battle in Texas.

      @NORML-Gatweway theory Greg Ball (R) is giving up his Senate position at the end of his term this year, please contact Justin Wagner(D) he’s running for Westchester and a great person to talk to.

    6. Geoffrey Larson says:

      Why is it taking so long?

    7. Dave says:

      Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.

      Henri Queuille, The Bureaucrat (1985)

      So they agreed it needs to be reduced but will continue putting people in jail for over 2.5 years? Guess they want to milk it as long as they can and really could care less about ruining the lives of the people they represent. I would be very curious as to why they want to wait so long.

    8. Missouri is such a sad state. Show Me? You’ve been shown, now get with the program. Vote out Jay Nixon.

    9. rdeno says:

      From my MO Senator

      Dear Mr. name here,

      Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate having the benefit of your views.

      There is considerable controversy regarding drug policy reform, including marijuana. This controversy ranges from the costs necessary to enforce current law to its potential to cause harm throughout society, such as low productivity and health concerns. There are concerns that legalizing marijuana would open the door to legalizing other drugs such as opiates, cocaine, and hallucinogens. My primary concern in these discussions is the effect any changes to our drug policies would have on families and the safety of our children. We must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of drug policy reform and ensure any changes are geared towards combating addiction and keeping illegal drugs off our streets. While I cannot support changes to federal law regarding marijuana, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind when considering legislation on this issue in the 113th Congress.

      Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue. Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of our state and the future interests of the nation. In that regard, your input is most helpful.

      For additional information on current legislation and my representation of the 2nd Congressional District, I invite you to visit my website at http://www.wagner.house.gov.


      Ann Wagner
      Member of Congress

    10. JJ says:

      Rdeno… follow up that letter asking your rep if she is so worried about the children of Missouri then you expect her to introduce legislation outlawing youth football. If she is worried about the safety and development of children then she needs to address the fact that football has been proven to cause brain injury and abnormalities in fully developed brains as well as high school and youth football players. …
      Take it from an all state Missouri defensive and offensive lineman. .. I’ve been there and done it. .. if it wasn’t for pot I would have killed myself years ago. ..