Note: Missouri law has changed with the passage of Amendment 3. It is unclear if the wording "except 35 grams or less" will remain. The wording no longer makes sense, but changing it will take work. For an explanation of some of the changes under Amendment 3, please take a look HERE. Under Missouri law, possessing any controlled substance other than marijuana is always a felony. Possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is not a felony. So, when you are charged with felony drug possession for cocaine, pills, heroin, etc., the charge will read “possession of a controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana” or something similar. This phrasing comes directly from RSMo 579.015 (2).
Clients are often confused when they see this charge because they think they are being charged with a marijuana offense or a felony controlled substances and marijuana. They know they did not have marijuana. The matter can be even more confusing when jargon or symbols are used. For instance, you might see a charge like “PCS except <35g marijuana.” The “<” symbol simply means less than and does not change the meaning. “Except” is still the key word in the charge.
Missouri Drug Laws
Missouri's drug laws are harsh. Possession of any amount of any controlled substance (other than marijuana) is a class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Many states have misdemeanor possession amounts based on schedule (type of drug) or weight, and many more have felony punishments in the 1 to 3-year range for smaller amounts, but in Missouri, it is theoretically possible to have 7 years of your life taken from you for possession of a trace amount of a drug.
Of course, a 7-year sentence for drug possession, especially on a first offense, is unlikely, but it is important to hire an experienced attorney when facing felony charges. If you are in the St. Louis area, give attorney Ruth Beerup a call. She has handled many felony drug possession cases in her 25+ year career, often with exceptional results.