Marijuana: Still Illegal in Texas?
The possession, use, sale, transport, and cultivation of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. What is the law in Texas?
National TrendsUnder the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 it is listed as a Schedule I substance, the highest classification possible under that statute. As attitudes have shifted, however, eight states have moved to broadly legalize marijuana, or cannabis: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska.
Since enforcement of federal law is largely left up to state agencies using state resources, these states have simply made a policy that their state law enforcement personnel will not enforce the federal law inside their state borders. And since there aren't many federal law enforcement agents running around, people largely feel free to partake within fear of reprisal under the law.
What About Texas?Attitudes must be changing all across the country, then, right? Not exactly . . . many Texans still see marijuana as illicit drug use and a gateway to harder stuff. And the law in Texas still treats marijuana strictly, imposing tougher penalties than most casual users realize until they're caught. In certain narrow circumstances, Texas recognizes medical circumstances in which marijuana use is allowed under the law. If you're legally able to possess marijuana under state law, you almost certainly already know about it, following an arduous procedure to become certified. Dallas and Houston have enacted "cite and release" policies, but those citations still carry a punch. And the sale of any amount of cannabis remains a felony.
How Much Marijuana Gets You in Trouble?Under Texas law, penalties vary according to the amount of the stuff in your possession. Any amount of marijuana will be considered a class B misdemeanor, which carries up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2000. And it just goes up from there:
Weight Classification Maximum Penalty
2 oz. or less Class B misdemeanor 180 days and $2000 fine
2-4 oz. Class A misdemeanor 1 year and $4000 fine
4 oz.-5 lbs. State Jail Felony 2 years and $10,000 fine
5-50 lbs. Felony (3rd degree) 10 years and $10,000 fine
50-2000 lbs. Felony (2nd degree) 20 years and $10,000 fine
Over 2000 lbs. Felony (1st degree) 99 years and $50,000 fine
Don't Let a Marijuana Charge Damage Your FutureIf you have been charged with possession of marijuana, no matter the amount, your best bet is to take swift and aggressive action to protect your rights. Hire an attorney to be sure your rights were not violated through an unlawful search or seizure, or other illegal police tactic. Take advantage of all the options available to you under the law, from reduction of charges, conditional dismissal, and expunction.