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When is a marijuana possession charge considered a felony?

Marijuana has been legalized – medically or recreationally – in many states, but Missouri is not one of them. While there are efforts to add a constitutional amendment to the 2018 election ballot that would legalize medical marijuana, current law does not allow marijuana use of any kind.

As a result, it is important to know what could happen if you are arrested for marijuana possession. Depending on several factors, a marijuana charge could be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Possession charges

A first offense for marijuana possession, if the amount is up to 10 g, is fairly light. There is no chance for incarceration and the maximum fine is $500. However, a second offense or any offense more than 10 g or less than 35 g comes with a possible jail sentence up to one year and a maximum fine of $2,000. All of these charges would be considered misdemeanors.

A possession charge becomes a felony when it reaches more than 35 g. In that case, the penalties are up to seven years incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000. If the amount of marijuana you possess is more than 35 g but less than 30 kg, this is historically been charged as intent to distribute.

Paraphernalia and other marijuana charges

Possession of marijuana paraphernalia, for the most part, will likely lead to a misdemeanor charge. Classification and penalties for a first offense match those of a possession charge of less than 10 g. Classification and penalties for a second offense or an unlawful manufacture of paraphernalia match the penalties for a possession charge between 10 g and 35 g.

If you are charged with the possession of paraphernalia for commercial purposes, it is a felony with up to four years of incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000.

The sale, distribution, trafficking or cultivation of marijuana is always a felony in Missouri, no matter the amount. The only thing affected by the amount is the severity of the penalties. For this reason, it is important to have a strong defense if the charges include an intent to sell or distribute.

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