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

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 thoughts

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

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

  4. 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. 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. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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. ..

  9. @rdeno, I looked up Rep. Wagner and found that she sponsors HR 4568 “Small Business Freedom to Grow Act of 2014”! What a great name, let’s persuade her to sponsor a second bill with “Cannabis” between the words “Grow” and “Act”.

    “Cannot support changes to federal law regarding marijuana”– remind her of the absurd Schedule 1 situation, worse than heroin etc.

    “Ensure any changes are geared towards combating addiction”– I just read an article stating that certain terpenes (three of which are found in cannabis) can reduce nicotine craving! Worst-ever nightmare of Philip Morris & Co.– what if cannabis growers create a super-strain that kills the $igarette industry (after 200,000,000 gruesome deaths since 1853)? Take that, addiction!

  10. What it should say is local activists are dragging their feet as much as the politicians. Why when support has never been higher (no pun intended) are we pushing this back two more years? As with anything I’m sure money is the root of stalling.

  11. it seems so crazy that there are people out there still trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. it is such a slow craw like all those greedy people are trying to stall to find a way to compesate and to sweep their misdeeds under the rug. how else to explain the years of waste , ignorance, intollerance, and lies!

  12. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be in Prison for Years under Decriminalization for growing cannabis.


  13. Glad to see some movement. But just turns my stomach to see how legislators continue to insist on governing their interpretation of morality. Who in their small minds are they protecting and at what expense to the lives of so many? Somebody continues to be making money from this and they don’t want that to stop.

  14. Thanks Ray.
    Every state matters. I have family in Missouri. I know its not easy to get old money to change their ways, but we have to give credit to those of us who are stepping up our cannabis education.
    C’mon Florida and New York! C’mon +%50 of the U.S. Population…

  15. Brian, they can take it. The prohibs get innocent people killed every day. And then say marijuana killed them. Isn’t it funny (not) how denial and tranference are actually our national policy???

  16. “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 ?”

    Well the shit ideas they are selling are pretty redundant, maybe they do count as “returded” by now… ‘Wow this turd does shine! We’ve been polishing it for decades now with your missing money.’ Yet, it still looks to everyone exactly like a giant piece of illegal you know what.

    Also, children may have issues consuming marijuana. THC and CBD protect nerve cells from dieing. But certain cells do have to die in order for the brain to function well. Autism maybe a disorder of having too many brain cells and I can’t see how marijuana would encourage a brain too many nerve cells to fix itself. If anything it could make the condition worse. Here is something that needs to be studied.

  17. Partial acceptance is still intolerance and disrespect for patient rights. Rescheduling cannabis or removing it from the schedule completely will help remove psudo-science from cannabis research.

  18. 2011 terpene article: Ethan B. Russo, “Taming THC”, British Journal of Pharmacology.

    Three terpenoids Myrcene, Pinene, Caryophyllene, found in cannabis, can “combat addiction” by relieving nicotine craving– also rel;ieve anxiety, help user clarify the mind, etc. Author urges growers to concentrate efforts on growing low-THC strains— which even Missouri will legalize for medical use— containing those and other relevant terpenoids.

    As for the children— preventing 800,000 American kids from getting hooked on nicotine next year is again the #1 medical emergency facing this nation. Surgeon General 2014: “smoking-related illness” causes $289-bil. damage to US economy– do the math and get a figure for Missouri. Cannabis to the rescue??

  19. Wow Colorado did not take 3 years to think about legalizing it or changing the criminal law. 3 years is outrageous IMO. I live in Missouri and it is good news but Illinois didn’t take 3 years to get medical weed. Missouri is a joke we the pot head/ cough* we the people deserve less then 3 years. We deserve a legal law saying you can smoke how ever much you want as long as your 18. That should take affect Jan. 1 2015. its that easy

  20. When will the tide turn on employers who discriminate against mj smokers? People with jobs are still screwed.

  21. We have to vote out the Republicans and all who are fighting to keep Cannabis illegal. Everybody who can read knows that cannabis should be legal for adults everwhere.Science is fact weather you agree or not.

  22. Vote and try to remove those politicians , mostly the Republicans who are fighting to keep cannabis illegal.Science is fact weather you like or not and cannabis should be legal everywhere for adults 21 and over. I live in Alabama arm pit of the South. Ignorance prevails here!

  23. Hi I’m Darin Bell, I agree to you Julian this MJ isn’t really bad, there are a lot of people who needs it because of their conditions but it should be controlled. I read an article about a parent whose being cautious for her children thinking it would be bad. What I mean is there should be a restriction between the one who need it and the one who don’t. And a lot of recovery centers are being posted to social media to prevent people from being addicted to it.

  24. @Drug Abuse Recovery,
    Drug Rehabs are largely corrupt in the U.S., focused on piss testing non violent marijuana users, fabricating evidence to create patients, (DEAs SOD program), separating families, placing innocent children in potentially violent foster care for profit (Alexhillfund@facebook.com) and filling private prison and rehab quotas using our tax dollars.
    Google Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. 1.3% of the U.S. Population has sustainably been addicted to any variety of drugs and always has before, during, and will after prohibition is over.
    Then visit the National Institute for Drug Abuse who is paid to dismiss any medicinal value of marijuana… Using our tax dollars.
    Now take a trip to the Department of Health and Human Services that owns the patent on cannabinoids as neuroprotectants to the human endocannabinoid system. Since 2001, our government owns the patent (…507) that can treat a variety of neurological disorders, including a form of brain cancer, using marijuana; which was reported in the Shaffer Commission of 1970 back when the Controlled Substances Act passed through Congress and was signed by Nixon. The D.H.H.S. Continues to prohibit marijuana, while they sold exclusive patent rights a year ago to GW Pharmaceuticals to sell expensive herbal marijuana to patients with epilepsy… Patients that could grow their own marijuana medicine or purchase it more cheaply at a local dispensary if marijuana wasnt prohibited in their state.
    Regulation and taxation is what NORML has always been about. What we have now is organized crime within our government funded by our own tax dollars.
    Donate to NORML. Write your Congressman. As you can see from the latest post on Congress cutting funds on the DEA, we’re making a difference.

  25. Ann Wagner’s concerns about “low productivity and health concerns” as *negative* reasons to legalize marijuana says it all. She doesn’t have the slightest clue what she’s talking about.

    Do people not understand you don’t have to SMOKE it? You can eat it, have it in a pill… all these things which have no negative health concerns. These people running our country are a bunch of knuckleheads.

    Vote out Jay Nixon.

  26. Marijuana prohibition and marijuana regulations are stupid.

    Marijuana Substitutes in stores and Smoke Shops are 10 times more dangerous than tobacco and 1000 times more dangerous than Marijuana.

    The symptoms cause by the Marijuana substitutes, such as fast heart beat, dangerously elevated blood pressure, pale skin and vomiting suggest that K2 is affecting the cardiovascular system of users. It also is believed to affect the central nervous system, causing severe, potentially life-threatening hallucinations and, in some cases, seizures. Oddly enough it sounds like the symptoms of Nicotine poisoning, which produces these symptoms and can cause death. The lethal dose of Nicotine for a person of my height and weight is about 35 mg. (a milligram is not very much)

    End the Stupid War on Drugs. It is stupid as the United States creating, supporting and funding the violence in the Ukraine and as stupid as the War on Terror and as stupid as Obamacare and as stupid as the NDAA and as stupid as supporting, funding, and training Al Qaeda Terrorists.

    Fire Obama, Biden, Kerry, Hagel. and Holder.

    End our Wars.

    Tobacco and Drones kill people, marijuana does not kill people and should not be Regulated.

    Anyone should be able to grow marijuana.

    A company producing a product containing marijuana should be taxed at the same rate as a company producing a like product of Tobacco, after all Tobacco contains the Insecticide Nicotine and Marijuana does not contain something that in a small dose will kill you.

    Prescription Drugs kill more people in the United States than traffic accidents, illegal drugs, and guns combined.

    Don’t take my word for it.

    Go to Google and type in

    prescription drug related deaths


    prescription drug related deaths in the United States

    No Incumbents.

    Vote every one of them out.

    Marijuana does not kill people.

    The drugs your doctor prescribes for you kills people.

    Alcohol kills people.

    Traffic accident kill people.

    The DEA kills people.

    Drones kill people.

    No Incumbents.

  27. I believe that one of the biggest holdups to legalization is all of the for profit prisons and the fact that states have signed contracts with these institutions to make sure the state supplies them with a certain number of inmates.Then you have the big pharmaceutical companies who know that once Marijuana becomes legal their huge profits are gone. Then you have the big alcohol companies who know that once Marijuana becomes legal their huge profits are out the window And I also have to wonder if lawyers are against legalization because then they would lose alot of high cost drug cases.

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