If you drive in Missouri with cannabis in your car, you may have questions about what happens if you are pulled over by the police. Getting pulled over with cannabis in your car can potentially lead to serious consequences, even for medical cannabis patients who think they are doing everything right within the law.
What Should You Do if You Are Pulled Over?
If you are pulled over by police, remain calm, use your turn signal, and pull your vehicle to a safe location on the right side of the road. Follow the officer’s instructions, stay calm, answer questions, and provide the requested documents.
What Happens if You Have a Medical Cannabis Card and Are Pulled Over in Missouri?
If you have a medical cannabis card in Missouri, you must have it with you if you are in possession of cannabis. For Missouri medical cannabis patients, the laws for cannabis possession are as follows:
- Medical cannabis patients who do not cultivate or have cannabis cultivated on their behalf may be in possession of up to a 60-day supply (or eight ounces) of dried unprocessed cannabis or its equivalent.
- Medical cannabis patients who are cultivating cannabis for medical use, or their caregivers are cultivating on their behalf, may be in possession of up to a 90-day supply (or 12 ounces) of dried unprocessed cannabis or its equivalent. The cannabis that is cultivated must stay on the property and be in the patient’s or caregiver’s control.
What if Police Suspect You Are Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis?
According to Missouri implied consent law, when operating a motor vehicle drivers automatically consent to a Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) test if arrested. Police can require a driver to take a THC test if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are operating a motor vehicle under the influence, or if they are involved in a major auto accident.
If a driver in Missouri refuses to take a drug test after a police officer requests it, they can be legally forced to do so through a warrant. Refusal to take a test has immediate consequences, such as automatic license revocation for one year. Evidence of refusal to take a drug test can be admissible in court in a cannabis DUI prosecution.
Unlike searching a residence, police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle if they have a reason to suspect you have been consuming cannabis, such as smelling cannabis in your car.
Can You Get a Cannabis DUI if You Are a Medical Cannabis Patient in Missouri?
According to the state of Missouri, a medical cannabis card “does not offer individuals protection from violating laws pertaining to operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence. Nothing in Article XIV permits a person to operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any dangerous device or motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana.” Therefore, even if you have a medical cannabis patient card in Missouri, you can still be charged with a cannabis DUI.
What Are the Penalties for Cannabis Possession in Missouri?
Cannabis possession is still illegal in Missouri, except for qualified medical cannabis patients. The penalties for cannabis possession in Missouri are as follows:
- For up to 10 grams on the first offense, the penalty is a misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $500.
- For up to 10 grams on the second offense, the penalty is a misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- For 10 to 35 grams, the penalty is a misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- For more than 35 grams up to 30 kilograms, the penalty is a felony, up to seven years in jail, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
What About Getting Pulled Over With Cannabis in Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis?
A few of Missouri’s major cities introduced cannabis ordinances before statewide 2014 cannabis reforms.
Starting in 2004, Columbia police can no longer arrest first-time offenders with less than 35 grams for cannabis possession. These offenders would face a fine instead of up to $300.
- Kansas City
Starting in 2017, Kansas City reduced its fine to $25 for first-time cannabis possession of fewer than 25 grams. Then in 2020, Kansas City eliminated this first-time fine.
- St. Louis
Starting in 2013, St. Louis police can no longer arrest first-time offenders with less than 35 grams for cannabis possession. These offenders would face a fine instead of up to $300.
How To Protect Against a Cannabis DUI Charge in Missouri
A cannabis DUI arrest or cannabis DUI charge in Missouri is expensive, and the laws are constantly changing. Cannabis DUI charges disproportionately impact people without the financial resources to defend themselves and access legal defense. That is why it is important to consume responsibly, know the facts, and have a proactive legal plan.
It is imperative for cannabis consumers to understand their rights as drivers. You deserve quality representation in the event of facing cannabis DUI charges. At reepher, we help cover these and related costs.