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Think your little pot possession is no big deal? Think again...

Despite changes in state law, marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. 21 U.S.C. § 802.

Making mistakes is part of being young, but sometimes, those mistakes may seem small at the time and then have major consequences down the road. It's not uncommon for young people to experiment with marijuana, and with recent changes in Missouri law, people with special medical needs can legally obtain the drug. Marijuana can be an important treatment for individuals with serious medical conditions, including seizures, chronic pain or mental illness.

But, even using marijuana legally comes with other risks. Federal law has not changed to reflect the variety of state laws, and under federal law, marijuana remains a controlled substance that is subject to prosecution. And, prosecution for marijuana, whether at the state or federal level comes with consequences. One of those consequences is the abrogation of your Second Amendment right to own a firearm.

Imagine a young college student who receives a ticket for marijuana possession one Friday evening. He might be tempted to pay a simple fine and hope to forget it ever happened. But, admitting to possessing marijuana can establish one as a "unlawful user of a controlled substance" and prohibit him from possessing a firearm. So, the next time he goes out deer hunting with his friends, he might find himself facing a federal felony charge.

Federal law makes possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance a felony subject to up to 10 years in federal prison. If our young man in the example above had recently pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana, even as a minor state misdemeanor charge, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm under this statute. What might have seemed like a minor ticket to him could suddenly have consequences that would change his life for the foreseeable future.

Before ever pleading guilty to any allegation, it is vital to talk to an attorney who understands the possible consequences of your guilty plea. It is essential that you know what you're getting into, and how to avoid future violations of both state and federal law.


Citation, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3)

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