Rolla's City Council passed an amendment to the city's existing marijuana possession law after learning the law carried a more stringent penalty than Missouri's criminal code.

The law also made the possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana illegal in the city for medical cannabis cardholders and businesses licensed by Missouri's Department of Health.

The City Council held the final reading on the amendment Monday once the council members heard from residents in a public hearing, received legal counsel and decided not to decriminalize the possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana in the city for individuals without a state-issued medical marijuana card.

Judyann Krenning, a surgeon in Rolla, spoke at the public hearing and said the city should make the punishment for the possession of small amounts of marijuana the same as the state. 

Krenning said, “We should stay within the state guidelines and not tie up our court system unless they meet those criteria. It's not a medicine, it’s a psychoactive drug. We’ve got to let our law enforcement keep the rest of the community safe. You need to keep people who are using this drug safe from themselves, wrecks the whole bit.”

Lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 491 that reduced penalties for those found in possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis. The legislation went into effect in 2017 to rewrite Missouri’s criminal code so the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana is a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500 for a first-time offense. 

The possession of over 10 grams but less than 35 grams of cannabis remains punishable by jail time in Missouri and is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Second-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as Class A misdemeanors in Missouri punishable by jail time — even if the quantity possessed is less than 10 grams.

The City Council chose to stay in line with Missouri’s criminal code and amended the city’s marijuana possession law to address the passage of Amendment 2 and conform to state law when individuals are found to have of up to 10 grams of marijuana in their possession. 

Rolla's amended marijuana possession law makes it legal for individuals to possess up to 35 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia commonly used for consuming or manufacturing marijuana if they have a  patient or a primary caregiver medical marijuana card issued by Missouri's Department of Health. 

The law’s former definition of drug paraphernalia made it illegal for state licensed businesses to grow, manufacture and sell medical cannabis in the city's limits.

Individuals without a state-issued medical marijuana card found in possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will be issued a citation before any arrest, and will not be required to appear in court. The crime is punishable by a maximum fine of $100 for first-time offenders. 

The possession of over 10 grams but less than 35 grams of cannabis is still punishable by jail time in Rolla for individuals without a patient or a primary caregiver medical marijuana card.