Texas drug possession laws are harsh, dividing drugs into various classes of controlled substances, each with its own penalties. Marijuana is in a class all by itself. For now, marijuana is not legal in Texas, although in 2015 the legislature passed the Texas Compassionate Use Act, allowing patients with qualifying conditions to be treated with medical cannabis.
Current legal penalties for marijuana possession
The penalties vary with the quantity of marijuana possessed, as follows:
- Under 2 ounces: Class B misdemeanor. A conviction could mean up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine
- 2-4 ounces: Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, and up to a $4,000 fine
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds: State jail felony, punishable by up to 2 years and not less than 180 days in jail
- 5-50 pounds – Third degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years and not less than 2 years in jail
- 50-2,000 pounds – Second degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years and not less than 2 years in jail
- Over 2,000 pounds – First degree felony, punishable by up to 99 years and not less than 5 years in jail, and a fine of up to $50,000
Small steps towards decriminalization
As reported in Forbes, a bill was recently approved by a Texas House of Representatives legislative panel to remove criminal penalties for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. If this bill passes, possession would be classified as a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. People convicted would serve probation, and if all goes well, have the charge expunged from their records.
An even bolder bill is also before Texas lawmakers. This bill would allow county and municipal governments to legalize recreational marijuana, and it directs the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to create the legal infrastructure for licensing, regulation, testing standards and transportation.
For now, though, the penalties remain. Convictions can impose life-long burdens relating to employment, housing and other opportunities. If you’re facing drug charges, it’s imperative to contact an attorney experienced in this area of the law to protect your rights and achieve the best outcome.