Medical Cannabis

Missouri’s Top Cannabis Lawyer

Missouri’s medical cannabis law has been in effect for less than a year and the authorities are already going after legal cannabis business and cannabis activists. If your clinic, cannabis business, or cannabis-related business (head shops, grow stores, etc.) has been raided, shut down, or you’ve just been seeing suspicious activity you need Missouri’s top cannabis criminal defense lawyer on your team. Joe Welch has been active in Missouri’s cannabis legalization movement since 2006 and is one of the leading experts on medical cannabis in Missouri. His expertise in administrative law, marijuana law, civil litigation, and his science background lead other lawyers to look to him for advice on these complex and constantly changing issues.

Are the local cops harassing your business? Do you suspect they’re sending in undercover officers pretending to be legitimate customers? Is DHSS asking to come inspect your home grow?

Physicians and Osteopaths

Under this new law, any physician licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy under Missouri law may enable a qualifying patient to use medical cannabis by issuing a signed “Physician Certification” stating that in their professional opinion the patient suffers from a qualifying medical condition. The physician can issue this recommendation for any number of listed qualifying medical conditions, or in their “professional judgment…any other condition” to a qualifying patient that could benefit from medical cannabis. A qualifying patient must be a Missouri resident and diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition. The “Physician Certification” must be in writing, but may be handwritten or in a commonly used electronic format, and DHSS has published the form that they require doctors to use to provide this certification.

Patients and Caregivers

Patients with a “Qualifying Patient Identification Card” may use and possess medical cannabis in their residence up to a 60 day supply. The current legal amount is “four ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana, or its equivalent” that can be purchased from a licensed dispensary every 30 days depending on the rules promulgated by the Department of Health and Senior Services. This means that a licensed medical cannabis patient can possess up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis at a time.

Patients must obtain identification cards and renew them every year for a $25 fee. Patients must show this card on demand when possessing or using cannabis to avoid arrest and prosecution. As the identification card is provided by DHSS via email it would be wise for patients to print out multiple copies of the card. Keeping a card in your purse or wallet and using print outs of your card to label your medicine might be a good way to comply with this requirement, but at the same time this label could be used against you if the medicine you possess is higher than the authorized limit because it would help prove that you actually possessed it.

Purchase and Possession Limits

Edibles, oils, and other cannabis products are also lawful to possess by licensed medical cannabis patients, but in much smaller amounts due to their higher concentrations of THC. DHSS denotes “Missouri Marijuana Equivalency Units” which divide the 4 ounce monthly limit into 32 3.5 gram units – one MME is equal to 3.5 grams of cannabis flower. For cannabis concentrates one MME is equal to one gram of concentrate. For THC infused products one MME is equivalent to 100 mg.

DANGER – distribution cases

If you are convicted of distribution, possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing/growing, or the attempt to do any of these, then you will permanently lose your right to have a medical cannabis card. If you share your cannabis with another patient or a recreational user you could be charged with distribution. Possession of some amounts greater than the authorized limits are punishable by administrative sanctions within DHSS, but local authorities could view possession of greater amounts as possession with intent to distribute, even if you haven’t actually distributed. The police will seize common household items and use them as evidence of your intent to distribute – they will grab sandwich bags out your kitchen or a postage scale out of your bedroom and try to use these to prove that you’re a drug dealer.

Out-of-state Medical Patients

Out-of-state licensed medical cannabis patients visiting Missouri are authorized to possess the same legal limits that Missouri patients are while visiting Missouri but they will not be allowed to purchase from Missouri dispensaries.

The drug lawyer

While many lawyers handle drug cases, Joe Welch has earned his reputation as “the drug lawyer” through a combination of winning drug cases in the courtroom, advocating to end drug prohibition, and having the expertise to understand the science behind drug cases.  Fellow lawyers in the community often seek his advice on novel or confusing issues in their own drug cases. He has handled hundreds of cases before administrative tribunals in Missouri, including licensing cases before the Board of Nursing, the Office of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Revenue, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The Litigator

  • Joe Welch has tried countless cases before judges and juries and has litigated hundreds of motions to suppress, dismiss, or otherwise undermine the state’s cases against his clients.  His courtroom success and experience is unrivaled

The Advocate

  • For over 10 years Joseph Welch has been an active, public, and outspoken member of NORML – long before marijuana legalization had the public support it now does
  • Drafted the 2009 petition to decriminalize marijuana in the City of St. Louis
  • Has helped prosecutors challenge their own opinions about drug laws and mass incarceration
  • He publicly fights for a society where law is no longer the tool of oppression

The Scientist

  • Joe Welch also has a bachelors degree in geology, a “hard science”  of physics, math and chemistry where he studied and used many of the same instruments that the state’s drug chemists use in analyzing controlled substances
  • Few lawyers know more about mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, specific versus presumptive tests, the Wiley library, and lab quality control than he does
  • He also has extensive knowledge regarding the science of addiction, drug treatment and drug testing


The Highest Credentials

  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers
  • Ranked 10/10 Superb, Avvo’s highest rating
  • Graduated from top ranked Washington University School of Law
  • Attended the Missouri Bar CLE’s Advanced Trial College
  • Teaches a CLE on defending protesters in criminal cases
  • Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
  • Member of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL)
  • Member of the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers (MATA)
  • Member of the NORML Legal Committee
  • Card carrying member of the ACLU
  • Member of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association (MOCLA)
  • Member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
  • Practiced law for over 15 years


Security Focused

Your communications with your criminal defense lawyer should be private and secure – that’s why Joe Welch uses state of the art encryption to communicate with you and protect your secrets.

The choice of a lawyer is an important one and should not be based solely on advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case must be judged on its own merits.

Copyright © 2002-2019, by Joseph P. Welch