Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Cannabis in Missouri is illegal for recreational use, but decriminalized through legislation passed in 2014. Medical use was legalized in 2018 through a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution. The first licensed sales began in October 2020.

Partial decriminalization (2014)[edit]

In May 2014, Senate Bill 491 was enacted which reduced penalties for certain cannabis offenses. In particular, it eliminated the threat of jail time for first-time possession of up to 10 grams.[1] The bill also reduced penalties related to the sale and cultivation of cannabis, and eliminated the ban on probation or parole for third-time drug felony convictions.[2] It passed the Senate by a 29–2 vote and the House 140–15, then became law without receiving the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon.[3] SB 491 did not take effect until January 2017.[2]

Although penalties for cannabis were reduced under SB 491, possession of small amounts is still treated as a misdemeanor crime. For this reason the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws considers Missouri to only have partially decriminalized cannabis.[4]

CBD oil legalization (2014)[edit]

In July 2014, Governor Jay Nixon signed into law House Bill 2238 – the Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill – to legalize the use of CBD oil to treat persistent seizures. The legislation "allows the Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research purposes and allows the use of hemp extract to treat certain individuals with epilepsy". A neurologist must determine that the epilepsy does not respond to at least three treatment options in order for a person to be eligible. HB 2238 only allows hemp extract that contains at least 5% cannabidiol (CBD) and no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).[5]

In February 2015, the state issued licenses to two non-profits to grow cannabis to produce the oil.[6]

Medical cannabis legalization (2018)[edit]

In November 2018, Missouri residents approved with 66% of the vote a ballot measure (Amendment 2) to legalize the medical use of cannabis. The measure allows qualified patients to grow up to six cannabis plants and purchase an amount of cannabis per month to be determined by state regulators (required to be at least 4 ounces).[7] The measure set a 4% tax rate on medical cannabis sales with proceeds to be earmarked for services for military veterans.[8] Although several qualifying conditions are specified, the law additionally allows cannabis to be recommended for any "chronic, debilitating or other medical condition" for which a physician determines there would be a benefit, as well as for any terminal illness.[9]

Also on the ballot with Amendment 2 were two other medical cannabis initiatives that were defeated. Amendment 3 contained a narrower set of qualifying conditions, a higher tax rate of 15 percent, and would not have allowed home cultivation. It failed with 32 percent of the vote.[7] A third measure, Proposition C, was a statutory change as opposed to a constitutional amendment. It set a two percent tax rate and also contained no home grow provision.[8] It failed with 44 percent of the vote.[7]

The first licensed sales of medical cannabis occurred on October 17, 2020.[10][11] By this time there were 192 licensed dispensaries in the state, most of which were expected to open by the end of the year.[12]

Municipal reforms[edit]

Columbia (2004)[edit]

In November 2004, a ballot measure to decriminalize cannabis in Columbia passed with 61% of the vote.[13] The measure stipulated that possession of up to 35 grams was to be processed in municipal court as a non-criminal offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $250.[13] Also passed with 69% of the vote was an initiative to allow the use of cannabis with a physician's approval.[14]

A year earlier, in April 2003, a ballot measure to decriminalize cannabis in the city failed with 42% of the vote.[15]

Springfield (2012)[edit]

In August 2012, the city council of Springfield voted 6–3 to enact (rather than let go to ballot) a citizen-led petition to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.[16][17] It was then repealed one month later, however, in effect blocking the proposal (which had obtained the requisite number of signatures) from appearing on the ballot.[18][19] Since city council did not have this explicit power, organizers of the petition denounced the council's actions which they deemed to be illegal.[20] A lawsuit was filed in federal court, and in April 2015 the city settled with the petition originators in the amount of $225,000.[21]

St. Louis (2013)[edit]

In April 2013, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted 22–3 to allow police to cite individuals instead of arresting them for small amounts of cannabis. Cited persons would be processed in municipal court (instead of state court) and subject to a fine in the range of 100 to 500 dollars. The law went into effect in June 2013.[22]

Penalties were further reduced in February 2018 when the Board of Aldermen voted 24–0 to set a $25 fine for possession of up to 35 grams.[23][24]

Kansas City (2017)[edit]

In April 2017, Kansas City residents approved with 75% of the vote a ballot measure to decriminalize up to 35 grams of cannabis.[25] The measure eliminated the threat of jail time and reduced the penalty to a $25 fine.[26] The penalty was later completely eliminated in July 2020 by a 9–4 city council vote.[27][28]

St. Louis (2021)[edit]

In November 2021, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted 23–0 to allow the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and the cultivation of six plants under city law. The bill also prevents "adverse employer actions based on a positive drug test" for city employees who are medical cannabis patients and prohibits police from using the sight or smell of cannabis as the sole basis for police to stop someone.[29][30]


  1. ^ "Missouri Becomes 19th State To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession". Marijuana Policy Project. May 16, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Vallone, Noemi; Howell, Eden (December 29, 2016). "Marijuana law in Missouri eases up with the new year". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Missouri: Sentencing Reform Measure Reduces Marijuana Possession Penalties". NORML. May 8, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Executive Summary". NORML. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Proposed Medical Marijuana Legislation in 2014". Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Moon, Melanie (February 24, 2015). "Cannabis oil to be sold in Missouri legally". KTVI. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Angell, Tom (November 6, 2018). "Missouri Votes To Legalize Medical Marijuana". Forbes. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Marso, Andy (November 6, 2018). "Missouri voters approve medical marijuana with a constitutional amendment". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  9. ^ Sullum, Jacob (November 6, 2018). "Missouri Becomes the 32nd Medical Marijuana State". Reason. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  10. ^ Bogan, Jesse (October 19, 2020). "Medical marijuana sales begin in St. Louis County; patients line up at two licensed dispensaries". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  11. ^ "Long lines as Missouri medical marijuana dispensaries open". Associated Press. October 18, 2020. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Angell, Tom (October 17, 2020). "Missouri Launches Medical Marijuana Sales At State's First Dispensaries". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Moore, Dave (November 3, 2004). "Marijuana measures pass handily". Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on January 1, 2015.
  14. ^ DiStefano, Luke (November 3, 2004). "Both pot propositions pass by a large margin". Columbia Missourian. Archived from the original on November 17, 2004.
  15. ^ Willett, Justin (April 9, 2003). "Voters smoke pot proposal". Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Bridges, Amos (August 27, 2012). "Council plans changes for marijuana law". Springfield News-Leader. Archived from the original on October 31, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  17. ^ Landis, Mike (August 28, 2012). "Springfield city council will consider changes to pot decriminalization ordinance". KYTV. Archived from the original on August 2, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  18. ^ "End Of Democracy Watch: Springfield, Missouri". Marijuana Policy Project. September 25, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Rollins, Jess (May 2, 2014). "Dispute has been brewing since 2012". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  20. ^ Webster, Stephen C. (September 25, 2012). "Missouri pot activists may sue after Springfield re-criminalizes marijuana". Raw Story. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  21. ^ Rollins, Jess; Iseman, Dave (May 1, 2014). "Least costly way out of a suit? Or a $225,000 mistake?". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Pistor, Nicholas (April 16, 2013). "Reduction in marijuana penalties approved by St. Louis Board of Aldermen". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  23. ^ Bott, Celeste (March 19, 2018). "Only one marijuana bill makes it through St. Louis Board of Aldermen's session". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  24. ^ Fenske, Sarah (March 20, 2018). "Get Busted with Marijuana in St. Louis, Pay a $25 Fine". Riverfront Times. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  25. ^ Strekal, Justin (April 4, 2017). "KC NORML Successfully Decriminalized Marijuana in Kansas City". NORML. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  26. ^ Cummings, Ian (April 4, 2017). "KC voters approve lower penalty for pot possession: $25 fine and no jail". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  27. ^ Kite, Allison (July 9, 2020). "Kansas City won't punish marijuana possession after Council strips it from city code". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  28. ^ Angell, Tom (July 9, 2020). "Kansas City Lawmakers Vote To Remove All Local Penalties For Marijuana Possession". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  29. ^ Jaeger, Kyle (November 23, 2021). "St. Louis Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession And Cultivation". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  30. ^ Fenske, Sarah (December 20, 2021). "St. Louis police will no longer issue marijuana citations". KWMU. Retrieved December 25, 2021.