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St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office Policy Memo Regarding Marijuana

This office will not prosecute the possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana in any capacity. Prosecution of more than 100 grams of marijuana will only be pursued if evidence suggests the sale/distribution of marijuana. APAs will not issue cases, apply for summons or warrants for possession of 100 grams or less of marijuana.

Pending cases: APAs will not proceed with or attempt to accept any plea/finding of guilt for felony or misdemeanor marijuana possession, regardless of amount, without written approval from supervisor.

  • Note: immediate action – APAs will file Nolle Prosequis for every pending felony and misdemeanor marijuana possession case no later than January 11, 2018.
  • Note: immediate action – APAs will not to request capias warrants for failure(s) to appear on possession of marijuana matters.

Probation violation matters: APAs will not file or pursue Motions to Revoke Probation arising solely from the use or possession of marijuana.
Conditions of bail/bond: APAs will not file or pursue Motions to Revoke Bond arising solely from the use or possession of marijuana.

See Full Memo Here

Missouri Marijuana Possession Warning
Although possession of under 35 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor under Missouri law, many jurisdictions throughout Missouri wrongfully charge THC concentrates as a felony even when under 35 grams. Therefore, a single 1-gram oil cartridge for a vape pen could be charged as a felony depending on what county you are charged. This is a developing story; (St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County do not charge concentrates as a felony) but in other jurisdictions beware.

Current laws
579.015.  Possession or control of a controlled substance — penalty. —

  1. A person commits the offense of possession of a controlled substance if he or she knowingly possesses a controlled substance, except as authorized by this chapter or chapter 195.
  2. The offense of possession of any controlled substance except thirty-five grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class D felony.
  3. The offense of possession of more than ten grams but thirty-five grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class A misdemeanor.
  4. The offense of possession of not more than ten grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class D misdemeanor.  If the defendant has previously been found guilty of any offense of 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. Prior findings of guilt shall be pleaded and proven in the same manner as required by section 558.021.
  5. In any complaint, information, or indictment, and in any action or proceeding brought for the enforcement of any provision of this chapter or chapter 195, it shall not be necessary to include any exception, excuse, proviso, or exemption contained in this chapter or chapter 195, and the burden of proof of any such exception, excuse, proviso or exemption shall be upon the defendant.

195.010. Definitions.
(24)  “Marijuana”, all parts of the plant genus Cannabis in any species or form thereof, including, but not limited to Cannabis Sativa L., Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Americana, Cannabis Ruderalis,and Cannabis Gigantea, whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination;

State v. Randall, 386 S.W.2d 67 (1964)
-In State v. Randall the Missouri Supreme court decided the issue about what is considered marijuana. In the case, the court was asked to consider whether or not Hashish, a derivative of marijuana created from its resin, should be considered a separate drug for which the defendant should be charged. Defendant was already charged additionally with possession of marijuana. The supreme court held that the defendant could not be charged with possession of hashish in addition to his marijuana charge because, by legal definition, marijuana included all derivatives therefrom, including hashish.
-As applied to other marijuana derivatives such as oils, wax and edibles; the Randall case makes it marijuana across the board no matter the form of the derivative a. Yet many jurisdictions continue to incorrectly make a distinction between leafy marijuana and THC concentrations, charging felonies upon possession of the latter.

Scientists agree that THC is a compound of Marijuana

THC is the the psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant. It is one of over 200 compounds contained within the plant, Cannabis.

Our criminal defense lawyers have been the first law firm in the state of Missouri to take on prosecutors from across the state who wrongfully charge THC under 35 grams as a felony. Although the law appears to be well settled since at least 1964, that derivatives of marijuana, including compounds like THC, are considered marijuana by law. Many jurisdictions throughout Missouri, most of them rural, have made the erroneous decision to charge marijuana derivatives and compounds such as THC, as a felony possession.
We have been called upon in multiple jurisdictions scattered all over Missouri, to defend our clients rights and the laws of Missouri against these unlawful felony prosecutions. Unfortunately, unless the Supreme Court of Missouri would offer an advisory opinion, basically telling prosecutors to stop doing this; then this will continue to be an issue. Hundreds if not thousands of people are illegally prosecuted across Missouri every year and we have made it our mission to put an end to this practice once and for all.

Real time cases: 2020
St. Charles – We had a defendant who was charged with Felony possession for a small amount of wax and oil. St. Charles ended up changing their entire charging policy based on our work and legal briefings.
The charge was amended to a misdemeanor.
Livingston County, MO – Defendant charged with felony possession for 10g of edibles. Although the prosecutor didn’t change his entire charging policy, the charge was amended to a misdemeanor for our client.
Lafayette County – Pending – less than 35 grams of THC oil cartridges charged as a felony. We are currently pending litigation on the issue.

Despite many counties in Missouri erroneously charging felonies for misdemeanor amounts of THC, there are several counties that have gone the other way. Counties such as St. Louis and St. Louis county Prosecutors have made public statements that they will not pursue felony marijuana charges even if over 35 grams.

St. Louis City Prosecutor, Kim Gardner
In 2018, Kim Gardner announced her office’s policy that they would not pursue charges for marijuana possession for amounts under 100 grams. Essentially any amount under 100 grams would be prosecuted in St. Louis City municipal court as an infraction, if at all. This disincentives police officers to make these arrests in the first place, however, they may still refer the case to the City’s municipal prosecutor for minor charges.

St. Louis County Prosecutor, Wesley Bell
Bell has implemented a similar stance as Gardner. In 2019, Bell announced his policy in a memo to his staff, that they would no longer be prosecuting smaller amounts of marijuana. Sam Alton, the very active second in command for St. Louis County, confirmed to the River Front Times that they have halted the prosecution of marijuana possession under 100 grams. Distribution charges and marijuana accompanied by a weapon will still be prosecuted.

The decriminalization trend did not start with urban and suburban prosecutors implementing discretion.
In 2016, the Missouri legislature actually took the first steps to decriminalize marijuana with the passage of the law that categorized 10 grams or less of marijuana as a class D misdemeanor. In doing so they took away jail time for smaller amounts of marijuana possession (for first offenses). The maximum penalty under the new law was a $500 fine, no jail time is possible. That was quite a drastic change from the Class A misdemeanor it was previously. Under the old law, prior to 2016, a defendant may have received up to a year in jail for possessing even the smallest amount of marijuana. Given the propensity for rural jurisdictions in Missouri to crackdown on marijuana, this law effectively saved Missourians collectively hundreds of years in jailtime since its implementation. Think about that!

There is currently a push from several state lawmakers to follow Gardner and Bell’s lead in decriminalizing marijuana up to amounts of 100 grams. Although the proposed law does not currently have enough support to pass into law, it proposes that up to 100 grams of marijuana would not even be a misdemeanor and only prosecuted as an infraction. The bill is sponsored by Republican, Missouri House Representative from Ballwin, Shamed Dogan. The reasoning behind the representative’s bill is similar to the reasoning behind the previous legislative decriminalization; to stop crowding the jails with marijuana offenders.