Among all U.S. states, Texas has some of the strictest laws and penalties for the possession, trafficking or distribution of controlled narcotics. Most drug violations fall under the umbrella of the Health and Safety Code, the Texas Penal Code and the Controlled Substances Act, which impose harsh punishments ranging from fines, driver’s license suspension, probation and jail time. While 2017 saw some major attempts to reform Texas marijuana policies including HB 81 that would reduce punishments for low-level pot possession, as of June it is still illegal to grow, possess or sell marijuana in the state.
There are some key factors used to determine the offense level for drug possession in Texas. Authorities will consider the type of narcotic in possession, how the drug was concealed, the amount of drug in possession, types of drug paraphernalia discovered, any prior convictions and the surrounding or “aggravating” circumstances relating to the incident.
Texas drug penalty groups
Under The Texas Health and Safety Code, the state categorizes controlled substances into separate “penalty” groups, including a special category for marijuana.
- Penalty Group 1 – includes narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and ketamine
- Penalty Group 1A – includes the hallucinogen LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)
- Penalty Group 2 – includes Ecstasy, mescaline, PCP (Phencyclidine) and Marinol
- Penalty Group 4 – includes prescription medications like Xanax, Hydrocodone (under 300 mg), Valium and Ritalin
- Penalty Group 4 – includes drugs containing the opioid Buprenorphine, morphine, Motofen, and Pyrovalerone
Marijuana possession in Texas
Penalties for the possession of marijuana in Texas are as follows:
- 2 ounces or less: Class B Misdemeanor crime, punishable by 180 days in jail and maximum $2000 fine
- 2-4 ounces – Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4000
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds – state felony, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
- 5 to 50 pounds – 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000
- 50 to 2,000 pounds – 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000
- Over 2,000 pounds – up to life in prison and fines not exceeding $50,000
Controlled substance penalties
The penalties for drug possession in Texas depend on the type of narcotic, aggregate weight and other factors listed above. As an example, possession of the medications (without a valid prescription) Ritalin, Valium or morphine can result in up to one year incarceration and fines of $4,000. The possession of harder drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin come with much harsher ramifications, including a minimum of two years in jail.
Possession of between 200 and 400 grams of methamphetamine in Texas is punishable by between 10-99 years imprisonment and penalties of up to $100,000. Depending on the gravity of the circumstances, such as intent to distribute to minors or in a drug-free zone, steeper punishments may be levied.
Some Texas districts offer drug diversion programs for low level or first-time offenders that allow suspects to avoid jail time and a permanent criminal record.
Texas drug crime lawyer
Dallas drug crime lawyer Jeff King provides a strong legal defense against charges of state and federal offenses involving controlled substances. Drug possession in Texas can land even first-time offenders in prison. Preserve your rights and your freedom by retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call the Dallas, Texas law offices of Jeffery King today for a private, no-fee consultation.
Additional Texas Drug Law Resources:
- Dallas Observer, The State of Marijuana in Texas After the 2017 Legislative Session http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/texas-legislature-2017-marijuana-law-recap-9522506
- Texas Legislature, Health and Safety Coe TITLE 6. FOOD, DRUGS, ALCOHOL, AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HS/htm/HS.481.htm
- SMU, Texas State Law and Penalties for Controlled Substances https://www.smu.edu/StudentAffairs/HealthCenter/Counseling/DrugFreeCampus/TXStateLawPenalties
- TribTalk.org, It’s time to reform Texas’ drug laws https://www.tribtalk.org/2014/06/09/its-time-to-reform-texas-drug-laws/