Missouri Laws on Possession and Sale of Controlled Substances

Most drug crimes in Missouri carry felony penalties.

By , Attorney (University of Houston Law Center)
Updated April 20, 2023

Illegal possession and sale of controlled substances carry stiff penalties in Missouri. This article discusses Missouri's classifications and punishments for drug crimes.

How Does Missouri Classify Controlled Substances?

Missouri divides controlled substances into five "schedules." The state mostly uses these schedules for regulatory purposes. Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse and increase in recognized medical uses. Sentencing judges may also use these classes to determine the applicable penalties for illegally making, selling, or possessing specific controlled substances.

What Are the Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Missouri?

Missouri makes it illegal to knowingly possess a controlled substance without a prescription from a licensed physician.

Possession of Illegal Drugs Other Than Marijuana

The possession of a controlled substance (other than marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid) constitutes a class D felony, which carries penalties of up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Possession of Marijuana

Possession of between 10 and 35 grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class A misdemeanor. A guilty defendant faces up to one year of incarceration and a $2,000 fine. If the amount is more than 35 grams, the class D felony penalty described above applies.

What Are the Penalties for the Sale or Delivery of Controlled Substances in Missouri?

A person commits the offense of illegal delivery of a controlled substance if they knowingly:

  • distribute or deliver a controlled substance (or attempt to)
  • possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute or deliver any amount of controlled substances, or
  • permit a minor to purchase or transport illegally obtained controlled substances.

Penalties for the illegal sale or delivery of controlled substances vary depending on the substance involved and the circumstances surrounding the conduct.

Sale or Delivery of Controlled Substance Other Than Marijuana

Unless enhanced penalties apply, delivery of a controlled substance (other than marijuana) constitutes a class C felony, which is punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Protected location; enhanced penalty. A defendant faces a class A felony if they knowingly distribute, sell, or deliver a controlled substance in a protected location, such as within 2,000 feet of a school or 1,000 feet of a park. This conviction is punishable by 10 to 30 years or life in prison.

Minors; enhanced penalty. The offense of delivery of a controlled substance is a class B felony if the recipient is younger than 17 and at least two years younger than the defendant or the defendant knowingly permits a minor to purchase or transport illegally obtained controlled substances. A class B felony carries 5 to 15 years' imprisonment.

Sale or Delivery of Marijuana or Synthetic Cannabinoids

The offense of delivery of 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid is a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, the penalty increases to a class C felony if the defendant delivers 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid to a person younger than 17 and at least two years younger than the defendant. A guilty defendant faces 3 to 10 years' incarceration and a $10,000 fine. Delivery of more than 35 grams of marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid is a class C felony.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking Crimes in Missouri?

Under Missouri law, trafficking a controlled substance refers to a defendant who possesses, buys, or brings into the state "large" amounts of illegal controlled substances (or attempts to do any of these things).

Missouri has two degrees of drug trafficking. Penalties vary depending on what the defendant intends to do with the drugs, the amount and type of drugs involved, and whether the defendant has prior trafficking convictions. Below are just a few examples of drug trafficking offenses. Check out Chapter 579 of the Missouri Revised Statutes for the complete list.

First-Degree Drug Trafficking: Sale, Delivery, or Manufacture

A person commits the offense of trafficking drugs in the first degree if they knowingly distribute, deliver, manufacture, produce, or attempt to do any of these activities where a certain amount of controlled substance is involved.

Trafficking drugs in the first degree constitutes a class B felony when the illegal drugs involve:

  • more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl
  • more than 30 grams of a mixture containing heroin
  • more than 8 grams of a substance containing a cocaine base, or
  • more than 30 grams of any substance containing methamphetamine.

A class B felony subjects a guilty defendant to 5 to 15 years' incarceration.

The unlawful conduct increases to a class A felony when the amount of the drug increases to:

  • 20 or more milligrams of fentanyl
  • 90 grams or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin
  • 24 grams or more of a mixture containing a cocaine base, or
  • 90 grams or more of any preparation containing methamphetamine.

These class A felonies carry 10 to 30 years or life in prison.

Second-Degree Drug Trafficking: Possession or Purchase

Drug trafficking in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly possesses or has under their control, purchases or attempts to purchase, or brings into the state a certain amount and type of controlled substance.

If the drugs involved include, any of the following, the illegal conduct constitutes a class C felony:

  • more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl
  • more than 30 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of heroin
  • more than 30 kilograms of a mixture containing marijuana, or
  • more than 30 grams of any material containing any quantity of methamphetamine.

These class C felonies are punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The unlawful conduct becomes a class B felony when the amount and type of drug include:

  • 90 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of heroin
  • 24 grams or more of a substance containing a cocaine base
  • 100 kilograms or more of a mixture containing marijuana
  • more than 500 marijuana plants, or
  • 20 milligrams or more of fentanyl.

A class B felony subjects a guilty defendant to 5 to 15 years' incarceration.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been charged with a drug-related offense in Missouri, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A controlled substance conviction can become part of your permanent criminal record and negatively impact your ability to find employment or housing, as well as subject you to significant fines and lengthy incarceration time. An experienced lawyer will discuss the circumstances unique to your situation, formulate possible defenses, and protect your constitutional rights.

(Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 195.017, 558.002, 558.011, 579.015, 579.020, 579.030, 579.065, 579.068 (2022).)

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