Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas

As states begin to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, people may believe that they can possess a small amount of marijuana without penalty. That is not always the case. In Texas, marijuana is still illegal for recreational purposes, so the person in possession must qualify under the Texas Compassionate Use Program (CPU) and have a valid medical marijuana prescription. Otherwise, they may face steep penalties for possessing marijuana.

Medical Marijuana

To qualify for medical marijuana use in Texas, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a permanent resident of Texas
  • Have an illness listed on the Texas medical marijuana list of conditions
  • Have a marijuana prescription from a doctor registered on the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas

In Texas, there is no age requirement for a medical marijuana prescription. However, if the person with the medical marijuana prescription is under 18, they must have their parent or legal guardian’s consent. Currently, qualifying conditions include the following:

  • Seizure disorders
  • Spasticity
  • Autism
  • Terminal cancer
  • Incurable neurodegenerative diseases (one example is Alzheimer’s)
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

If someone meets the basic requirements to qualify for medical marijuana and has a valid medical marijuana prescription, they will not face marijuana possession charges. This only applies if they possess no more than the prescribed amount. Anyone who violates any CPU law or regulation can face charges of possession of marijuana.

What Constitutes Possession in Texas?

Under Texas law, possession of marijuana means a person knowingly or intentionally having marijuana in their care, custody, or control.

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas

The penalties for possession of marijuana depend on the amount of marijuana someone has in their possession.

  • Class B misdemeanor: Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Class A misdemeanor: Possession of two to four ounces of marijuana is punishable by incarceration of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • State jail felony: Possession of four ounces to five pounds of marijuana is punishable by between 180 days and two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony: Possessing five to 50 pounds of marijuana can result in two to ten years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony: Possession between 50 and 2,000 pounds is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of at least 2,000 pounds of marijuana is punishable by five and 99 years in prison, with a fine of up to $50,000.

In addition to incarceration and fines, convicted individuals can suffer from their conviction long after they get out of prison. For example, they may have a more challenging time getting a job or going into certain professions. They can also be required to complete community service hours, complete a rehabilitation program, or even be subject to random drug tests.

These penalties can be even harsher if there is an intent to distribute. If you are charged with possession, it is essential to take it seriously. Even a conviction for a small amount of marijuana could change your life forever.

Defenses for Possession of Marijuana Charges

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas 2There are several defenses that a criminal defense attorney may be able to use to defend someone against being convicted of possession of marijuana, depending on the circumstances of the case. Some possible defenses are:

  • Illegal search and seizure If the marijuana was discovered during an illegal search and seizure of the victim’s property, the prosecution cannot use it at trial against them. As a result, the prosecution will likely need to drop the possession charges.
  • No control, care, custody, or management of the marijuana: The prosecutor must show that the defendant had possession of the marijuana. If there was no possession, the defendant cannot be convicted for possession of marijuana.
  • Lawful possession: Individuals with a legal prescription for marijuana under the CPU cannot be charged with the criminal offense of possession unless they violate one of the laws or regulations of the program. If the defendant was in legal possession for medical purposes, they cannot be convicted for possession of marijuana.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

While many states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Texas has not yet done so. This means that when someone is caught with a small amount of marijuana, it can be life-altering. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, you should contact an attorney to protect your rights. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, we are experienced in defending clients against various criminal charges, including drug offenses. Contact our criminal defense attorneys today at (214) 845-7007 or online, so we can build your defense and give you the best chance of avoiding jail time.

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