A comprehensive decriminalization of marijuana possession has recently occurred in St. Louis. Before Ordinance 71429 was passed, any and all marijuana possession and cultivation were subjected to penalization.
Now, the governing board in St. Louis does not see fit to use city resources, such as funds, personnel, or the use of facilities, to pursue minor infractions of marijuana possession and cultivation. These laws only pertain to St. Louis and not the entire state of Missouri. Missouri state laws continue to prosecute any amount of marijuana possession and cultivation as misdemeanors and felonies, resulting in fines or sentencing.
St. Louis Ordinances 66419, 68404, 69429
The first step in furthering decriminalization was to repeal Ordinances 66419, 68404, and 69429 pertaining to possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Ordinance 69429 started the process of lessening penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession, replacing jail sentences with fines for possession of fewer than 35 grams or 1.25 ounces.
“When any law enforcement officer suspects any adult as defined by state criminal statutes of possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana, it is desired that such person not be required to post bond, suffer physical arrest, be taken into custody or detained for other than the issuance of a summons.”
However, anyone in possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana could be fined between $100 to $500.
St. Louis Ordinance 71429
After repealing Ordinances 66419, 68404, and 69429, Ordinance 71429 rewrites the laws, stating city resources will not be used against marijuana possession and cultivation under certain circumstances. No city resources will be used to further investigate or enforce punishment for:
- The possession of two or fewer ounces (56 grams) of marijuana
- The cultivation of six or fewer flowering marijuana plants
- The possession of marijuana paraphernalia
Missouri state laws and penalties
Aside from the city of St. Louis, Missouri state laws continue to enforce and prosecute any amount of marijuana possession, cultivation, and possession of paraphernalia. These infractions of possession of marijuana or paraphernalia and cultivation penalties include:
- The possession of marijuana: Misdemeanor charge where the first offense is a maximum fine of $500.
- The possession of paraphernalia: Misdemeanor charge where the first offense is a maximum fine of $500.
- The cultivation of 35 grams or less: Felony charge with a sentence of up to four years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or a combination of both.
- The cultivation of more than 35 grams: Felony charge with incarceration of three to 10 years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or a combination of both.