Missouri joined a majority of other states in legalizing medical marijuana last fall. Although the recreational use of marijuana continues to remain illegal in the state of Missouri and under federal law, residents of some large cities and counties who smoke marijuana may no longer have to worry about being prosecuted for it. In recent months, prosecutors in the city of St. Louis, Jackson County, and St. Louis County all have announced that they no longer will prosecute most low-level marijuana possession cases. Prosecutors have adopted similar policies in various cities and counties nationwide, including in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The St. Louis County prosecutor has declined to charge people who possess less than 100 grams of marijuana. The amount of marijuana that a person possesses is typically indicative of whether the person has the drug for his or her personal usage or whether the persons intends to sell or distribute it. In making the policy change, this prosecutor also removed a positive test for marijuana as an independent grounds for a violation of probation, recalled warrants related to failure to appear in court on marijuana possession matters, and instructed associate prosecutors to abandon currently pending marijuana possession cases, even those in which prosecutors already had reached a plea bargain.
Generally, the only exceptions to these policies are for individuals who are selling or distributing marijuana, or for those accused of driving while impaired by marijuana. The move is expected to leave overburdened prosecutors free to focus on serious and violent crimes that threaten the safety of Missouri residents. For residents in these areas, they will receive referrals to treatment if needed, and avoid losing their jobs due to incarceration on a marijuana possession charge. Nonetheless, some Missouri lawmakers have been critical of the move, stating that it is for the legislature to make laws and prosecutors to enforce them, rather than prosecutors simply choosing to not prosecute some laws. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center is dedicated to offering you client-focused legal representation and advice throughout your criminal proceedings. When you need help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, at (816) 322-8008 or fill out the online information form located here.