Now that recreational use of marijuana is legal in nine states and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, a large percentage of U.S. residents may feel that law enforcement officials are less concerned about marijuana use. However, an FBI report released in September states that marijuana arrests are rising nationwide.
Overall, marijuana arrests accounted for just over 40 percent of the nation’s 1.6 million drug arrests in 2017.
In Missouri, two constitutional amendments and one change to state law to legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes are on the ballot this November. Some Missouri cities already have lenient ordinances regarding recreational use of marijuana. Kansas City and St. Louis, for example, have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.
Understand the severity of a marijuana arrest
But Missouri still has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country. A first-time conviction of possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana is a Class D misdemeanor that could result in a fine up to $500, but it will not result in jail time. However, a repeat offense involving 10 grams or less can result in up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Possession of 35 grams or more of marijuana is a Class D felony that can lead up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If someone is arrested with a large amount of marijuana, authorities may infer there is an intent to sell or traffic in marijuana and the penalties become even more severe.
A conviction on any drug charge – even simple possession of marijuana – can derail a person’s career, educational goals or personal life. If you are arrested for possession of marijuana or face any drug charges, it is important to recognize the severity of the situation, and work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to minimize the impact of the charge.