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Missouri’s Good Samaritan law – how does it work?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Drug Offenses |

Like other U.S. states, it’s illegal to manufacture, distribute and possess controlled substances in Missouri. The state also continues to consider the possession and cultivation of marijuana – medical and recreational – as illegal.

A drug possession conviction in Missouri is a class C felony with a seven-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Those convicted of possessing or cultivating marijuana instead face fines between $500 and $10,000 (depending on the amount they had) and jail time of up to 10 years.

But while owning and producing controlled substances is unlawful, the state government also recognizes that these drugs are dangerous and that their users are still people in need of care. This is why in 2017, Missouri implemented the Good Samaritan law, designed to encourage people to find immediate medical attention if they – or another person – experience an emergency resulting from their controlled substance use.

The law and its specifics

The Good Samaritan law protects the individual who seeks medical help and the person experiencing the emergency from minor violations. The violations the law protects against include:

  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Possessing controlled substances
  • Possession of an imitation controlled substance
  • Sale of liquor to a minor
  • Possession of an ID altered to display falsified information, such as age
  • A minor’s purchase and possession of liquor
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Violating probation or parole

The law, however, doesn’t protect individuals from other crimes, such as manufacturing drugs and distributing controlled substances. It also doesn’t protect those with an active warrant.

In addition to protecting individuals who help others suffering from the effects of a controlled substance, the law also requires police officers to provide drug emergency responders with treatment-related resources.

If a controlled substance emergency – such as an overdose or a nasty side effect – leads you to contact law enforcement for aid, there’s still a possibility that you could be charged with possession. You might want a criminal defense attorney to help you in such cases since an attorney can help uphold your rights under the Good Samaritan law. An attorney would also be helpful in cases where the Good Samaritan law can’t apply, and you need proper representation in court.