SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana is now “decriminalized” in Missouri.

A more than 1,000 page re-write of all of Missouri’s criminal laws went into effect January 1. It eliminates jail time for some offenders caught with the drug.

Possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana in Missouri is now a class D misdemeanor, compared to a class A in the past.
Offenders pay up to a $500 fine and do not face the prospect of jail time.

Springfield Defense Lawyer Stacie Bilyeu wants to pick apart that “decriminalization” term.

“That’s why I hate hearing the word because people are being misinformed, because it’s still a crime to possess marijuana in the state of Missouri,” Bilyeu said. “And the best advice when something is against the law is — don’t do it.”

People caught with 10-35 grams can still be charged with a class A misdemeanor — and any more than 35, a felony.

Possession of fewer than 10 grams will not always ensure Missourians do not face jail time.

“That is only true if you don’t have any prior convictions for possessing marijuana or some other kind of controlled substance, if you do, it doesn’t matter if you have .1 grams of marijuana it is still a class A misdemeanor,” Bilyeu said.

While a $500 fine may only be a minor hit to someone’s pocketbook, Bilyeu reminds Missourians it is still a criminal matter — something that could come up in a background check.

“You still have to disclose those things and then if you want to go to school, if you want to pursue a professional license, if you want to pursue a career in the medical field, all of those things are going to come up in a background check and could cause you trouble,” Bilyeu said.

20 states have decriminalized marijuana. Efforts to make medical marijuana legal in Missouri did not make the 2016 ballot, but supporters are ramping up efforts to get it in front of voters in 2018.