Marijuana is now fully legal in 8 states, and decriminalized in many more. But here in Texas, reform of marijuana laws has yet to gain any headway, unfortunately.
Possession of marijuana in Texas is a serious crime that draws a stiffer punishment than in almost any other state. Besides being stuck with a criminal record for a drug charge, you can potentially get jail time for a period of 180 days or longer depending on the quantity. In addition, a marijuana possession conviction will result in a judge can suspend your driving license for a period of 6 months or more.
You can be charged with drug possession if marijuana has been found in your pockets or any other part of your body. If it has been found in your car, house or any other place that you can easily access it from, you can be charged with constructive possession. You can also lose your property such as a car or house if the police think that it was somehow connected in ferrying or necessitating drug trafficking. Texas marijuana laws allow the police to seize any property they think was being used in committing the crime.
Texas Marijuana Possession – Laws & Penalties
The penalty for possession of marijuana depends on the amount of marijuana involved. If it is your first offense and the substance was less than a pound, you are not likely to have to worry about spending time in jail as you can most often get away with a lesser penalty.
The penalties largely depend on the amount of the substance found on a person.
- Less than 2 ounces is termed as class B misdemeanor and can land you 180 days in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2000.
- Between 2- 4 ounces is classified as class A misdemeanor and will probably get you not more than one year in jail and /or a fine of not more than $4000.
- More than 4 ounces but less than 5 pounds is considered a State felony and can get you a fine of $10000 and/or a time in jail of 180 days to 2 years.
- More than 5 pounds but less than 50 pounds is a third degree State felony and can get you 2-10 years in a State prison and/or a fine of $10000.
- More than 50 pounds but less than 2000 pounds is considered a second degree felony and can get you up to 20 years in jail and/or a fine of $10000.
- For possession of more than 50 pounds, this is a very serious offense considered an enhanced first degree felony punishable by not more than 99 years in jail and /or a fine of not more than $50000.
Texas Marijuana Penalties
For first time offenders under Class B misdemeanor, a fine of not more than $2000 or a jail term of from 72 hours and 180 days is applicable. One can also get between 24 hours and 100 hours of community service, driving license can be canceled up to a year and there can be a surcharge of $ 1000 to $ 2000 per year for three years.
Second Offense under class A misdemeanor can get a fine of not more than $4000 and a jail time of 3 days to one year. Community service can be between 80 and 200 hours. Driving license can be suspended for up to a year and a surcharge of between $1500 and $2000 a year for three years.
3rd or consecutive offenders normally fall under 3rd degree felony and can get a fine of not more than $10000 and a jail time of between 2 and 10 years. Community service of between 160 and 600 hours can be ordered for and a suspension of the driving license for 2 years.
Sale of Marijuana – Texas Laws & Penalties
If found selling the substance, these are the penalties imposed:
- A quarter oz to 5 lbs can result in penalties of 6 to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of $10000.
- 5 lbs to 50 lbs can result in penalties of 2 to 20 years and/or a fine of $10000.
- 1 ton or more can result in penalties of 10 to 99 years in jail. This is a mandatory imprisonment with a fine of $10000.
It is also illegal to cultivate marijuana in Texas. Penalties also vary according to the amount one has been accused of growing.
Possession of marijuana paraphernalia in Texas is considered a separate offense. Simple possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a class C misdemeanor and can carry a fine of not more than $500.
Paraphernalia includes any items used in the growing, processing, distribution, packaging and selling of the product. Typical for pot paraphernalia are bongs, pipes, and rolling papers.
Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Texas
If you were found in possession of the marijuana with intent to distribute, you can be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which can result in a year in jail. For second time offenders, a jail time is mandatory.
Selling marijuana to minors, (someone below the age of 18) will also result in a mandatory jail term if convicted.
Marijuana DUI in Texas
Driving under the influence of Marijuana is essentially the same crime as driving under the influence of alcohol. The same statute includes penalty enhancements if you drove while impaired on marijuana with a minor child in the vehicle.
Marijuana Decriminalization in Texas
Since 1970, a movement to decriminalize the use of marijuana has been active across the United States, including such efforts in Texas. The penalties have since become less stiff and the fines less than those imposed there before. According to Tax laws in Texas, one is supposed to pay tax and put a stamp duty on the packages being imported in to the State. Since it is illegal business, no such tax is paid but once you are caught, you are bound to be charged with tax evasion. This is $3.50 per gram according Texas Stat. and Code Ann. § 159.101A.
Texas Medical Marijuana
The state of Texas does not recognize or legalize any usage of medical marijuana. Some groups have since been founded to fight this law. Even if you are a legal user of medical marijuana in other states where it is legal for medicinal purposes, being found with it in Texas can land you in jail.
Hemp is not yet a legalized industrial material in Texas. It is illegal to cultivate it or use it in any way.
Legal Defenses for Marijuana Charges in Texas
Once you have been found in the possession of marijuana in Texas, a criminal lawyer can be critical to getting the best outcome in court.
If it is your first offense and a small amount of the substance was found in your possession, a lawyer can argue for a plea deal that includes drug rehabilitation classes as part of a reduced penalty. If you agree to drug treatment programs, it is possible a judge may even let you off the hook with doing community work, but these plea deals can vary considerably.
There are also many possible legal challenges based on the circumstances of arrest, the evidence against you, and how that evidence was gathered or collected. An illegal search without probable cause to search your person or vehicle, or without your explicit consent can be challeged in court with a motion to supress.
No two cases are the same, so it makes sense to consult with an attorney who can advise you based on the exact circumstances in your situation.