Missouri Judge Says ‘Right To Farm’ Measure Doesn’t Include Marijuana

indoor cannabis garden

I have never been to Missouri, but I have a lot of friends that are from there, and some that still live there. It sounds like a very interesting state in many ways. The marijuana community there is very passionate, and I have worked alongside many of them fighting for reform over the years. According to current marijuana law in Missouri, cultivation is treated differently than most other states.

Most other states have a tiered plant scale, with X plants netting a certain penalty, with increasing penalties for an increased plant amount. Missouri treats over 500 plants as a felony, but when it’s under 500 plants, the accumulative weight of the plants determines the penalty. Chances are if you are caught growing marijuana in Missouri, it will be treated as intent to distribute, and not personal possession.

A man named Mark Shanklin was arrested somewhat recently in St. Louis, Missouri for cultivating roughly 300 marijuana plants. Mr. Shanklin did not dispute that the plants were marijuana, and was quick to point out that he was simply farming marijuana. Mark claimed that the 2014 ‘Right to Farm’ amendment in Missouri allowed him to do so. ‘That’s still his position, 100%’ Mr. Shanklin’s attorney was quoted as saying. Unfortunately, that defense was shot down by a judge this week in Missouri. Per STL Today:

A St. Louis man had no legal right under a Missouri pro-farming law to grow a crop of marijuana plants in his Carondelet neighborhood home, a judge has ruled.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker on Friday sentenced Mark Shanklin to 120 days of “shock time” and five years of probation following a July bench trial in which Dierker found him guilty of two counts of drug distribution and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

According to the cited article, Mr. Shanklin is not the first person to try (and fail) to use this particular defense in Missouri. Per the article:

The right-to-farm defense has been tried before and failed.

In June 2015, a judge in Bates County ruled against a couple charged with growing pot in their basement to use to treat glaucoma. Later that year, a judge ruled against a Jefferson City woman who used the same defense strategy after she was caught with nine marijuana plants in her basement.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Shanklin does indeed appeal his case, as he has stated that he will do. A lower court ruling is one thing, but there’s still a chance that the lower court ruling could be overturned by a higher court. Only time will tell if that happens or not.

Johnny Green
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Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor's degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant