With more states beginning to legalize marijuana use, either medically or recreationally, it is important for those who live in states where marijuana is illegal to be aware of the potential consequences.
This is particularly important when crossing state lines, as offenses and penalties differ depending on which state you are in. Let’s look at how drug offenses and penalties differ between Missouri and Illinois.
Missouri drug charges
If you are caught with less than 35 g, or about 1.23 ounces, of marijuana, it is considered a misdemeanor. Any more would be considered a felony.
A first misdemeanor offense for marijuana possession up to 10 g does not come with possible jail time, but does include a maximum fine of $500. A second offense up to 10 g or any offense more than 10 g and up to 35 g comes with a possible jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of $2,000.
Possession of paraphernalia is not a felony unless you are found to have it for commercial purposes. A first offense is a misdemeanor with a maximum $500 fine. A second offense or unlawful manufacture offense both come with a fine of up to $2,000 and a possible sentence of up to one year.
The sale, trafficking, distribution or cultivation of marijuana is always a felony in Missouri.
Illinois drug charges
In Illinois, a first offense for possession of 10 g or less of marijuana is a civil violation. There is no possibility of jail time and the maximum fine is $200. A first offense of more than 10 g and less than 30 g – which is just over an ounce – is a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to one year and a maximum fine of $2,500.
From there, possession offenses start coming with more severe penalties. Any offense of more than 30 g is considered a felony, and felony marijuana charges of any kind – possession, sale or trafficking, cultivation, paraphernalia – come with mandatory minimum sentences in Illinois.
However, Illinois does not consider every sale, trafficking or cultivation charge as a felony. If you are arrested for the sale or trafficking of less than 10 g of marijuana, it is a misdemeanor. If you are arrested for cultivating five plants or less, it is also a misdemeanor.
Possession of paraphernalia with more than 10 g of marijuana is a misdemeanor, but all other paraphernalia charges are felonies. In fact, there are more severe prison sentences for the sale of paraphernalia to a minor, and even more severe sentences for sale to a pregnant woman.
Interestingly, Illinois has legalized medical marijuana for up to 2.5 ounces – or nearly 71 grams – of usable cannabis during a period of 14 days. Missouri has not legalized it at all.
If you are arrested
If you are arrested for a drug charge, it is important to not talk to police and contact a lawyer right away. Depending on where you were when you were arrested, there are plenty of options for you and could impact whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and protect them in the face of these charges.