Texas has a reputation as being extremely severe in its imposition of penalties for drug use and possession, and it is well earned. Minor marijuana possession is not decriminalized in Texas, as it is in several states, which means that even a miniscule amount can land you 6 months in jail.
Like many other states, Texas divides up punishments based on the weight of the drug possessed or sold. The possession of up to a pound of marijuana (this includes very minor amounts) will generally carry a sentence of 6 months to 2 years in a state jail and a $2,000 – $10,000 fine. However, if you have no prior felony convictions and are arrested with up to a pound, a Texas judge must impose a sentence of probation with drug treatment (for a duration at the judges discretion). The judge can decide whether to impose or waive the fines.
That is where the leniency ends, however. For the possession of 1 – 5 lbs, there is no probation, and a minimum sentence of 6 months will be imposed. This will also be considered a "state jail felony," (which is a Texan creation meant to help with prison over-crowding). This means it will count as a felony on your record, but you will be sentenced to a minimum security prison with non-violent offenders.
After the five pound limit, the court will assume you are a major trafficker, and the penalties increase rapidly (these felonies are not of the "state-jail" variety):
5 – 50 lbs: 2 – 10 years, $10,000 fine
50 lbs to 1 ton: 2 – 20 years, $10,000 fine
1 ton or more: 5 – 99 years, $50,000 fine
Texas law does not recognize little gifts as being the same as possession (like most states do). Therefore a gift of even less than 1/4 of an ounce carries the same 6-month $2,000 fine as simple possession, but without the probation requirements (i.e. you will likely serve time). If it is a sale of that same amount, the penalty jumps to 1 year. This applies to even extremely small amounts, even less than a single joint cigarette.
Penalties for the sale or delivery of marijuana are also assigned by weight in Texas:
- 1/4 oz – 5 lbs: 6 months – 2 years, $10,000 fine
- 5 lbs – 50 lbs: 2 – 20 years, $10,000 fine
- 50 lbs – 1 ton: 5 – 99 years, $10,000 fine
- 1 ton or more: Mandatory minimum of 10 – 99 years, with a $100,000 fine
These are for either the sale OR delivery, meaning it is irrelevant whether or not you are actually paid or just giving it to someone. On top of that, if the delivery or sale is to a minor (in ANY amount), that is punishable by an additional 2 – 20 years in prison. Also, sale within 1,000 feet of a school or within 300 feet of a youth center, public pool or video arcade increases the penalty classification to the next highest level (which in some cases is a difference of many years).
Absolutely not. Texas does not recognize any form of medical marijuana, so all the same laws above apply to you, and if you are arrested while possessing marijuana, a medical card or doctor’s note will not be a valid defense. Federal law also does not recognize medical marijuana (even in your home state), so you should contact a criminal law lawyer before you ever try to carry medical marijuana over state borders.
If you have been arrested in Texas for a marijuana crime, or have a legal prescription to marijuana and are thinking of going in state, it is very important to contact a Texas criminal law attorney immediately. The laws in this field are extremely harsh and frequently changing, so having up to date facts and advice can be the difference between a minor hassle and a prison sentence. For instance, LegalMatch attorneys in Houston have been very active in advocating for reduced sentences an or diversion programs for their clients accused of marijuana possession.