Today, there is no legal way to buy or sell marijuana in Missouri, but the passage of Amendment 2 made the possession of medical marijuana legal for residents with a Missouri medical marijuana identification card. This has created a conundrum for state law enforcement.
Rolla Police Chief Sean Fagan reached out to Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services for clarification on the state’s marijuana possession law and updated the Rolla City Council on how the law applies to residents with medical marijuana identification cards.
Fagan said the state’s health department informed him that individuals with a valid medical marijuana card are allowed to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana, and officers shouldn’t ask where the cannabis came from or request to see a receipt for the cannabis.
The marijuana doesn’t have to be in a sealed package. It can be in the person's home or vehicle, as long as the individual has a qualifying patient identification card, a qualifying patient cultivation card, or a primary caregiver identification card approved by the state’s health department.
“Police can’t seize it. Simply, once they see your medical marijuana card, they hand the card back, and you are on your way,” Fagan said. “It’s imperative that our citizens know if you are going to possess marijuana you have to have that card in your possession to show a law enforcement officer when they request to see it.”
There isn’t a database in the state of Missouri for police to use to identify residents with valid medical marijuana cards, and legitimate medical marijuana cards only have the cardholders name, so police have to cross reference a residents medical marijuana card with their driver’s license, Fagan said.
“Eventually it’s going to be where we can get into the database in our police cars and see if they have a current card issued,” Fagan said. “This law passed quicker than the state can keep up with, so right now the only way we can tell if you have a card is for you to actually show us the card.”
If a resident doesn’t produce a valid medical marijuana card, either by hard copy or a photo of the card on their cell phone or computer, they are considered to be in unlawful possession of marijuana.
Residents with valid medical marijuana cards are also considered to be in unlawful possession of marijuana if they have over eight ounces.
“You are not allowed to possess over eight ounces. If they are in possession of over eight ounces they are in violation of Missouri state law for possession,” Fagan said, and the consumption of marijuana is specifically prohibited in public places and while driving.
“You can use it in your house. You can use it at your friend’s house, if your friend is allowing you to use it,” Fagan said. “You can’t use it in public. You can’t use it outside of your property. You can’t use it in your car.”
Marijuana has to be consumed in a place where it is allowed, otherwise, it can’t be used, he said.
If the amount of marijuana a cardholder has in their possession is questionable to police; the marijuana would then be taken to the police station to be weighed, and if it doesn’t surpass eight ounces police will return the marijuana to the individual, Fagan said.
City Attorney Lance Thurman added, “eight ounces is a half-pound of marijuana. Presumably, anything above a half-pound of marijuana is not for personal use. Therefore, it is going to be considered possession with the intent to distribute.”
While residents with Missouri medical marijuana identification cards may consume or possess marijuana, there will continue to be no legal way to buy or sell marijuana in Missouri before licensed dispensaries open. Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services projects dispensaries will open in mid-2020.