Can You Bring Marijuana Back from Illinois?
As of January 1, 2020, Illinois is the 11th state in the U.S. to recognize the legal sale and possession of recreational marijuana. On the other hand, even though Missouri has a medical marijuana program, sales from dispensaries will not begin until the spring. Furthermore, there is no other lawful justification for marijuana possession in Missouri, even the smallest amounts.
It can be tempting for people in the St. Louis area to simply cross the river to purchase marijuana and bring it back home. However, it is critical to recognize that doing so can result in significant legal trouble and criminal charges.
Marijuana Possession is Against Missouri Law
It can be confusing to be able to walk into a dispensary in Illinois and purchase cannabis products openly and easily but then be arrested for crossing state lines with your purchase. However, this is what can happen if law enforcement officers discover that you are bringing marijuana from Illinois to Missouri. Police agencies are on the lookout for people who travel to Illinois for marijuana, and prosecutors will not hesitate to file charges.
In recent years, different municipalities in Missouri have taken steps to reduce potential penalties for marijuana possession. Some, like the City of St. Louis, have decided to decriminalize possession of marijuana, meaning possession will most likely result in a fine. However, it is not decriminalized everywhere and you may still face the following penalties:
- Less than ten grams = Misdemeanor charge, $500 fine, no possible jail time
- Ten to 35 grams = Misdemeanor charge, $2,000 fine, up to one year in jail
- More than 35 grams = Felony charge, $10,000 fine, up to seven years in state prison
It might not seem like a serious matter to face misdemeanor charges and no jail time for the possession of less than ten grams. However, a second offense for such possession can mean one year in jail and $2,000 in fines. Because the penalties can escalate quickly, it is important to avoid a first conviction whenever you can.
Arrests While Driving from Illinois to Missouri
You might be tempted to buy marijuana and use it in Illinois before you return home, though this can result in charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you try to bring the marijuana back in your vehicle, the police can try to find an opportunity to search your car. Many constitutional violations can occur during traffic stops, vehicle searches, and arrests regarding marijuana possession. If you are arrested, it is critical that you contact a defense attorney right away who can identify whether the police violated your rights, as well as other possible defenses to your charge.
Consult with Our St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorneys about Your Case
If you are accused of marijuana possession in Missouri, the St. Louis criminal defense lawyers at Bruntrager & Billings, P.C., are ready to help. Even a misdemeanor marijuana charge can disrupt your life in many ways, and you need the right defense strategy based on the circumstances of your case. Call 314-646-0066 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help protect your rights.