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Missouri's New Marijuana Laws Are "Small Step" Forward

marijuana_leaf_light.jpg
Pablo Flores/Wikimedia
Marijuana got a tiny green light in Missouri last month.
Missouri's marijuana laws made an inch of progress last month, but they are still among the strictest in the nation and yes, you can still get arrested for a joint. However, people with severe epilepsy will have better access to medicine and the severest marijuana penalty in the country has been somewhat taken off the books.

In the omnibus crime bill that passed both the House and Senate and is now awaiting Governor Jay Nixon's signature, the most progressive change is a law that will allow patients with severe epilepsy to use cannabis oil for treatment. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate (32-0) and overwhelmingly in the House (130 to 12). One reason for the easy passage could be that patients can only use it after a doctor has recommended three other medications that have proven not to work effectively.

But another reason is the intense lobbying parents of children with severe epilepsy did in Jefferson City, with several mothers and fathers testifying in front of Senate panels and knocking on legislators' doors. Epilepsy patients have been a strong force in getting medical marijuana legislation passed in conservative states. Alabama and Tennessee have passed similar legislation to address the medical needs of people, especially children, suffering from epilepsy.

See also: Cannabis Oil Bill: Step Forward for Medical Marijuana or Just a Way to Stall Progress?

Another big change in Missouri's marijuana laws is a new provision that eliminates the possibility of jail time for a first-time offense of under ten grams of marijuana. However, this does not mean decriminalization -- and one can still be arrested, booked, and get a criminal record if caught with under ten grams of pot. Here's how the law reads:

The offense of possession of more than ten grams but less than 36 grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class A misdemeanor.

The offense of possession of not more than 10 grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class D misdemeanor. If the defendant has previously been found guilty of any offense to the laws related to controlled substances of this state, or of the United States, or any state, territory, or district, the offense is a class A misdemeanor.


"Nobody should call this decriminalization," attorney Dan Viets, who served on the Missouri Bar Committee that drafted the bill, tells Daily RFT. "Decriminalization means no arrest and no criminal record, but if cops choose to book you, they still can. It's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction."

And one more important note: This law, if it does go into effect as is, won't be officially on the books until January 2017. So until then, the law is what it is now, which means one can serve up to a year in jail for under 35 grams of marijuana.

One more big change to the state's marijuana laws would end sentences with mandatory no parole or probation for third felony marijuana convictions.

"It essentially repeals the type of sentence given to Jeff Mizanskey," says Viets, referring to the only man in Missouri who is serving a life without parole sentence for marijuana charges.

See also: Meet Jeff Mizanskey, Missouri's Only Inmate Sentenced to Death in Prison for Pot

Viets adds: "I specifically pushed for it to be put in. There's no reason for it. It's an anomaly and it shouldn't be on the books."

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Tippin.turtle
Tippin.turtle

To those who claim to represent "we the people"; wake up or be voted out!

Tippin.turtle
Tippin.turtle

Isn't it time for politicians to represent the peoples will. Wake up or be voted out!

sweetcookies3333
sweetcookies3333

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13


1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices up and NORCAL wealthy

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol and Tobacco: Millions
Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: Millions
Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

Stephanie Peace
Stephanie Peace

Trice Still DaBeast Johnson here is some info for you.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

This is progressive as it gets in Missurah. Unless some crook with a big checkbook is willing to grease the wheels with lots of ca$h for the yokel politicians reefer madness will remain firmly in place in this backwards ass state. Blame the ignorant ass rural toads. From the bible beating ozark hillbilly incest brigade as well as the tractor humping farm cabal who fear losing their big time corn syrup subsidies. Fucking backwoods worms. Fuck all of them.

nonateup
nonateup

This is bull chit... I believe more people in missouri are for legalization than there are against it... its the shitty conservative politicians passing this dumb shit when we should at a minimum have medical marijuana not just cbd with low thc suffering patients need more than this poor joke they just passed no one should serve time for any cannabis reguardless this bill was made to waste time and incriminate people who are looking for a safer alternative

Jim Williams
Jim Williams

What do you expect Missouri is so back ass-ward!

noway0531
noway0531

"and one can still be arrested, booked, and get a criminal record if caught with under ten grams of pot."


And yet drinking 10 Tequila shots is a-okay! 

Cjmacintosh
Cjmacintosh

We're talking about marijuana here we're not talking about some old law that always comes up every time you try to down talk marijuana , you can't be in public with 10 shot of alcohol , no I do not drink either , let's focus on marijuan , As for legalizing it will not take the black market out of it , the cartels is already set up shop in Colorado , and they will do just fine . With the price the dispensaries are charging people can buy it on the black market for a lot less, and the cartels will be able to wash their money at the same time .so what you're saying is bogus, prohibition against alcohol is not working they are producing plenty of the illegal alcohol its called moonshine . if anything the cartels will make more money because of taxes are so high on marijuana products they will still make more profit than they would have with it not being legal , we seen this with cigarettes from Canada Black Market can bring them from Canada where there is less tax and sell them in the United States !

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@kevin_hunt <== figures a prohibitionist liar like you would follow and quote Faux News

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

@Cjmacintosh "if anything the cartels will make more money"?


Not true.  Cops in NE and WY are complaining that they rarely seize Mexican Marijuana anymore.  The bulk of the seizures comes from people that visit the pot shops in CO and take it home with them.


" the cartels is already set up shop in Colorado"


No, they haven't.


"they are producing plenty of the illegal alcohol its called moonshine ."?


Who is 'they' and what percentage of alcohol sold in this country is 'illegal moonshine'?  I see liquor stores everywhere and Al Capone is long gone. You are grasping for straws, CJ.


I'm looking forward to marijuana becoming legal in MO.  


YOU CAN'T STOP IT.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@kevin_hunt <== proven LIAR from Colorado


Shills for the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels.


Has no shame.

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