Missouri has not joined some of its sister states in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The possession of marijuana in any amount, except for authorized medical use, remains illegal.

As a result, a person caught with any amount of marijuana could face criminal penalties.

According to NORML, an organization that advocates for the scaling back and repeal of anti-marijuana laws, someone who has no prior record of drug offenses and is found with less than 10 grams of marijuana will avoid jail time.

However, even so, she will still face the possibility of having a misdemeanor conviction on her record. A conviction can hurt a person’s professional and other opportunities.

More serious penalties are possible for aggravating circumstances

People who are caught with marijuana a second time, or with more than 10 grams, may face a $2,000 fine as well as up to 1 year in jail.

Someone who is found with more than 35 grams, even if he is a first-time offender, will face the possibility of a felony conviction and a $10,000 fine. Years in prison are also possible.

The state also continues to punish those who sell or even just pass along marijuana to other people. Dealing in less than 35 grams will result in a lower degree felony charge and the possibility of up to 4 years in prison.

However, distributing more than 35 grams can lead to additional prison time.

It is also important to remember that  distributing any amount of marijuana to a person under 18 or around a school, park or public housing can lead to severe penalties, including over a decade in prison and a fine amounting to twice whatever the person made by selling the drug.

Likewise, Missouri imposes severe penalties on those who distribute more than 30 kilograms of marijuana.

Defenses may be available no matter the severity of the drug charge, so those accused of a crime related to marijuana should evaluate their options carefully.