St. Louis Marijuana Possession Laws Coming in 2017
A lot of recent commotion has been made about the changes to the Missouri criminal statutes that are to go into effect January 1, 2017. Specifically, the state legislature has decided to partially “de-criminalize” the laws governing marijuana possession in St. Louis, MO. This is a small step in the right direction, and represents a change that is long overdue.
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Just to be clear, “de-criminalization” does not mean “legalization”. Legalization is the process by which the government makes an activity that was once illegal (like two people of the opposite race from marrying one another), and making that act perfectly legal. There are usually restrictions that apply once it becomes legal (for instance, just because a black man and a white woman may legally marry, he may not marry more than one woman at one time). But the point of legalizing the once banned activity is to make clear that, as a society and culture, we have progressed forward to a point at which we no longer believe that the activity should be unlawful.
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De-criminalization, on the other hand, is a good first step. But it falls far short of legalization. When a criminal infraction is “de-criminalized,” it means that the state is wanting to lessen the potential sentence and/or penalty that someone would normally have to face when charged with the crime.
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So let’s take a look at an example: marijuana possession in St. Louis, MO. As it currently stands, if you are caught with less than 35 grams of the substance, the charge is described as a Class A Misdemeanor (which comes with a potential jail sentence of up to one (1) year and a fine of $1,000); and if you are caught with more than 35 grams, you are facing a Class C Felony (a charge that comes with up to seven (7) years of jail and a fine of $5,000). But this is set to expire on December 31, 2016.
On January 1, 2017, a few important statutory modifications will go into effect. For example, in the future, if you are caught with more than 35 grams of marijuana it will be a Class D Felony (which comes with up to seven (7) years of jail and a potential fine of up to $10,000); if you are caught with between 10 and 35 grams, it will be a Class A Misdemeanor (described above); and starting in 2017, if you are caught with less than 10 grams, it is going to be a whole new misdemeanor classification, a Class D Misdemeanor (which will come with no jail time, and potential fine of $500) (the lowest misdemeanor class currently is a Class C). If you have less than 10 grams of marijuana, then you are probably holding a simple joint in your hand.
As you can see, that is indeed a step in the right direction when it comes to our currently ridiculous, often racist, expensive, and hopelessly ineffective laws governing the possession of a controlled substance. It may be long road to get to full legalization, but at least the Missouri state legislature is beginning to see and understand the damaging effects our drug laws have on its citizens.
The affordable St. Louis marijuana possession criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken, have been helping people with their misdemeanor charges for over ten (10) years. Our goal is to make sure that the charges leveled against you do not stay on your permanent record, and do any lasting damage. And we want to do all of this at an affordable price. The fees for a typical misdemeanor case start at $450. But the initial consultation to discuss your legal issues is free of charge. So contact us today!!