For many young adults, college life offers both immense opportunity and immense temptation. Rapidly shifting cultural attitudes and popular media depictions that glamorize drug use may lead some young adults to underestimate the risks of experimenting. In fact, even a simple charge of possession may have a huge impact on an otherwise promising future. 

In addition to steep fines and potential imprisonment, students facing a drug offense who rely on financial assistance may lose access to that aid. Worse, possession of a controlled substance may lead to a misdemeanor or felony conviction, creating a criminal record that may jeopardize future opportunities for employment, education, housing and more for years to come. 

Missouri penalties for drug possession 

The severity of sentencing for possession of a controlled substance depends on the type and amount of drug involved, as well as whether an individual has prior drug offenses. While Missouri has moved toward more lenient sentencing for possessing smaller amounts of marijuana, penalties for repeat offenses and larger amounts of cannabis remain severe. Additionally, possession of any other controlled substance in any amount constitutes a Class C felony. Some examples of sentences for drug possession include: 

  • 10 grams or fewer of marijuana, first offense: class D misdemeanor, $500 fine 
  • 10 grams or fewer of marijuana, second offense, or between 10 and 35 grams, first offense: class A misdemeanor, up to 1 year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000 
  • Between 35 grams and 30 kilograms of cannabis, first offense: class D felony, up to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 
  • Any amount of another controlled substance, such as cocaine or heroin, first offense: class C felony, up to 7 years imprisonment with a 1-year minimum and a fine of up to $10,000 

A lifetime of consequences 

While fines and imprisonment create immediate consequences for drug possession, a conviction may also lead to negative consequences that last a lifetime. From creating a barrier to further education and professional licensing to the loss of voting rights, the result of a misdemeanor or felony conviction early in life may have a devastating impact with unexpected repercussions.