Texan Drug Laws 101: A Simple Guide to the Law
The state of Texas has a reputation for being tough on crime. And this more or less remains the case when it comes to drug laws in the Lone Star state.
With that said, the state's marijuana laws are fairly more progressive than one might expect.
After seeing the poor results of California's three-strikes system, former governor Rick Perry shifted the state's drug laws to focus more on treatment and less on crime and punishment.
Still, being arrested for violating Texas drug laws can have serious consequences. Let's take a broad look at what the laws are and how they're applied.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act
The Texas Controlled Substances Act compartmentalizes drugs into four categories, referred to as "Penalty Groups."
The penalty groups deal with various drugs and the associated punishments can correspond to how much of a substance a person possesses.
Marijuana is not a controlled substance in Texas and having possession of the drug isn't covered by the state's Controlled Substances Act. It's instead in its own group.
Former Republican governor Rick Perry called for the decriminalization of marijuana during his tenure. Although this was short of demanding legalization, it was nonetheless a bold stance for a conservative governor to take.
Texas Drug Laws and Penalty Groups
At a minimum, a person who is charged for possessing drugs in Texas could be considered either a "Class A" or "Class B" misdemeanor. This can carry a fine of up to $4,000 and a penalty of up to one year in prison, depending on which kind of drug it was.
With larger amounts of the drug, a convict can find themselves facing life imprisonment as well as up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
People who possess a drug with "intent to distribute" can face first-degree felony charges.
You penalty can also be affected depending on:
- If you have large amounts of cash
- How you conceal or store the drug
- Have prior offenses or past convictions
- If you own drug paraphernalia
It's also important to point out that some types of drugs can fall into two categories. For example, hydrocodone is a painkiller that can be considered to be both a depressant and a narcotic.
Drug Categories in Texas
There are four types of drug categories in Texas. Narcotics are drugs that are derived or made from the opium poppy.
Depressants are drugs that slow down the body's mechanisms. They can be used as tranquilizers or sedatives to help calm a person's nerves or help someone go to sleep.
Stimulants make a person more alert and speed up their nerves.
And hallucinogens can alter a person's thoughts, perception, emotion, or mood.
Penalty Groups in Texas
As we stated earlier, there are four penalty groups under Texas law. The penalties that a person faces can depend on the person's relationship to the drug.
Are they simply possessing it? Or are they selling or making the drug?
Let's go more in-depth into these groups.
Penalty Group 1
In Penalty Group 1, we have opioids. These are painkillers like oxycodone and codeine.
Opiates, like heroin, fall into the group as well. So does cocaine, ketamine, psilocybin, methamphetamine, and LSD.
People caught in possession of these drugs can face anywhere between 180 and two years of jail time as well as a $10,000 fine.
If a person possesses 400 grams or more of a drug in this Penalty Group, they can face a maximum of life in prison and up to $300,000 in fines.
Penalty Group 2
In this Penalty Group, we also have hallucinogens like MDMA (Ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, as well as amphetamines.
A person can who possesses less than one gram of the drugs listed above can face anywhere between 180 and two years of jail time as well as a $10,000 fine.
If they possess at least 400 grams of a drug in this group, they can face life imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.
Penalty Group 3
Opiates and opioids that aren't listed in the first Penalty Group can be found in Penalty Group 3.
This includes Valium and other sedatives, benzodiazepines, methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin), and anabolic steroids. Other drugs that can have either a depressant or stimulant effect, as well as the potential for abuse, can fall under Penalty Group 3.
Penalty Group 4
Various chemic compounds, prescription drugs, and opiates and opioids that aren't listed in Penalty Group 1 are in this Penalty Group.
The penalties are similar to the ones in Penalty Group 3.
Marijuana, as well as synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic marijuana, fall under this category.
The minimum penalties for possession of a drug in this group can be mandatory drug treatment and probation.
Sometimes, after successfully finishing a treatment program, a person can have the charges dismissed. However, it is also possible to get a penalty like spending 180 days in prison and paying a fine of $2,000 if you are caught with two ounces or less.
There's also a good chance that a person, even caught with a small amount of marijuana, will get their driver's license suspended for six months.
A person who is caught with over two ounces of a drug in this category can face penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
It's worth pointing out that in the state of Texas, a person's drug charge is highly reliant on the circumstances of their specific case.
This is why it's so important to hire a lawyer if you are charged with drug possession.
The Importance of Understanding Texas Drug Laws
By knowing more about Texas drug laws, you can better protect your rights and can feel more knowledgable when facing a drug-related charge.
Have you been arrested for possession and delivery of drugs? If so, contact us today and see how we can help you!