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Mistakenly receiving drugs in the mail and the question it raises

Even with the passage of HB 2238, which will eventually legalize the possession of hemp extract for certain people, Missouri still has some rather strict marijuana laws when compared to other states. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana can result in serious criminal charges that can lead to fines and even jail time.

It's because of our strict drug possession laws that we wanted to present an out-of-state case to our Boone County readers in which a package containing marijuana was mislabeled and sent to the wrong recipient. Although this particular case did not result in criminal charges, it raises an important question: could the accidental delivery of marijuana lead to criminal charges? Let's take a look at the case and our own state's laws to find the answer.

According to Courthouse News Service, the package was mislabeled with the recipient's address when it was in fact intended for someone else. When the recipient realized the error, she immediately called the police who did not appear to file any charges against the woman.

Looking at Missouri's laws, it's likely that the same outcome would have occurred here as well. That's because Section 195.010.1 of our drug possession law requires a person to have "knowledge of the presence and nature of a substance" and "has actual or constructive possession of the substance." Because the woman in this case did not appear to have knowledge of what was in the package, our laws would likely lead to the same conclusion: that she was not guilty of drug possession by definition of the law.

With more states choosing to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, it's possible that more cases like this could pop up in the future. If something like this were to occur here, a package recipient would still be encouraged to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer, especially if charges were filed despite evidence suggesting that a misdelivery had occurred.

Source:  Courthouse News Service, "FedEx Off the Hook for Alleged Pot Misdelivery," Rose Bouboushian, Jan. 2, 2015

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