Missouri’s Amendment 3 legalized recreational marijuana making it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase and use marijuana and enhancing medical marijuana laws and regulations. The change in how marijuana is regulated in Missouri has affected current laws, employment requirements, criminal records, medicinal use and more.
Amendment 3 in Missouri
Adult-use cannabis sales began in February 2023. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), which regulates adult use marijuana in the state, adults 21 and older are allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and may cultivate up to six mature cannabis plants if they apply for and receive a noncommercial cultivation registration permit. It is still illegal to sell, distribute or grow marijuana without the appropriate licenses and permits. Selling or distributing marijuana to minors also remains illegal.
The new law also put in motion the expungement of criminal records for thousands of Missourians convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses. This will affect people whose prior offenses would now be considered legal under the law. Historically these types of offenses have disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities, making it difficult for people with these types of offenses on their records to get reliable employment.
Missouri courts are working to review these cases and expunge those that fall into this category by June 2023 starting with the less severe cases. Expungement will seal these records meaning they will no longer be public.
Recreational marijuana laws in Missouri
While Missouri Amendment 3 permits marijuana use in private residences, it is still against the law to use marijuana in public spaces such as parks, sidewalks, walking paths and in public and private schools. Also, marijuana users are not allowed to smoke in moving cars. State regulations allow police to cite public marijuana users if they choose. Rental property owners can require that their renters not smoke marijuana on the property.
Missouri marijuana laws and employment
Employment and adult use of marijuana can be a complicated area. Most changes that employers need to be aware of apply to marijuana users who have a valid medical marijuana patient ID card. Despite the changes to adult use marijuana laws, Missouri employers are still allowed to have policies that restrict marijuana use or intoxication in the workplace. Employers are not required to allow employees to possess, consume or sell marijuana on the employer’s property.
However, Amendment 3 provides additional protections for workers with valid medical marijuana patient ID cards. Employers cannot discriminate or take action against an employee with a valid medical marijuana patient ID card for use of medical marijuana offsite when the employee is not working. In addition, employers cannot reprimand an employee with a valid medical marijuana patient ID card for a positive marijuana test.
Employers who could lose business or licenses if employees tested positive for marijuana use are not held to these standards. Also, if an employee uses, possesses or is under the influence of medical marijuana at work or if the use of marijuana is affecting the employee’s ability to do their job, then the protections do not apply.
Medical marijuana in Missouri
While medicinal marijuana has been legal and regulated in Missouri since 2018, Amendment 3 expands and enhances these regulations. Qualifying patients may be certified by a nurse practitioner. Previously certification was limited to doctors only. Also, proof of Missouri residency is no longer required as part of the patient application process.
Medicinal marijuana cards are now approved for three years as opposed to just one year as they previously had been. Furthermore, an individual is now able to be a licensed caregiver for up to six separate patients.
Purchasing and possession amounts for valid card holders, both patients and caregivers, have been expanded. These groups may purchase up to six ounces of dried, processed marijuana or its equivalent within a 30-day period, unless certified for a greater amount. In addition, card holders who are cultivating marijuana for medical use may be in possession of up to a 90-day supply of dried, unprocessed marijuana or its equivalent, as long as any amount in excess of the patient’s 60-day supply remains in an approved enclosed, locked facility.
Marijuana laws and penalties in Missouri
As of December 8, 2022, there is no longer a penalty in Missouri for possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. According to the amendment, for adults 21 and older who possess more than three ounces but less than six ounces of marijuana, grow more than six plants but fewer than 12, provide marijuana without being paid or intend to distribute less than six ounces of marijuana there are penalties.
The first violation is a civil infraction that could result in a fine of up to $250 and seizure of marijuana. The second violation goes up to $500 and loss of marijuana. The third and any subsequent violations would be a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 and seizure of marijuana. Those who are under 21 would receive a civil penalty and be subject to a $250 fine or they may have the option of attending eight hours of drug education or counseling to waive the fine. In addition, the amendment provides for anyone charged to be able to ask to waive the fine in favor of community service.
As mentioned, Missouri courts are reviewing criminal records for thousands of Missourians convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses that are now legal under the law. These records may be court sealed and no longer part of the public record, known as expungement. Expungements will especially help those communities that have been greatly impacted by nonviolent marijuana convictions, which have made it difficult for people with nonviolent marijuana possession records to get reliable employment.
Missouri’s Amendment 3 and federal marijuana laws
It’s important to remember that marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law. Also, marijuana laws differ from state to state. This is something travelers should be aware of, especially if flying.
For example, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a federal administration and TSA employees are federal agents. If a traveler has marijuana in their luggage or on them and the TSA finds it, they will report this possession to local law enforcement. If marijuana is legal in the state, not much may happen but the traveler may be delayed. Be sure to know the laws in the state and consider any checkpoints that may be encountered.
As Amendment 3 goes into effect in Missouri, various facets of life will be impacted. If a person or business believes they will be affected by these changes, it’s critical to stay updated and know how the law may impact them.
Gonzalo Fernandez is a personal injury attorney based in St. Louis. He regularly uses his legal expertise to offer insight on events impacting Missourians. Recent media appearances include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, CBS St. Louis, Fox 2, and KPLR 11. To speak to Gonzalo, call (314) 433-9131 or email email@example.com.
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