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TEXAS MARIJUANA LAWS AND PENALTIES

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This article is an overview of Texas marijuana laws and penalties. Texas law prohibits the possession, delivery, and cultivation of marijuana.

Possession of Marijuana – Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.120

Someone found with marijuana can be found guilty of possession of marijuana. “Possession” is a legal term that includes having actual care, custody, control, or management of marijuana.

The intentional or knowing possession of marijuana possession is prohibited. The prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware that they were, in fact, or were likely to possess marijuana. Circumstantial evidence can prove possession.

The amount of marijuana in the case determines the punishment range. For example, possessing less than two ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor. Contrast that with a defendant that possesses over 2,000 pounds of marijuana. A judge may sentence them to prison for 10 to 99 years.

Delivery of Marijuana – Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.121

“Delivery” also has a specific legal meaning. It includes the actual or constructive transfer of marijuana from one person to another.

Constructive transfer or delivery refers to when marijuana is transferred from one person to another without actual physical contact. An example is when a person leaves marijuana at a location so that another can pick it up later.

The punishment range for delivery of marijuana follows the amount of marijuana transferred or delivered. Delivery over a quarter ounce but less than five pounds results in a minimum jail sentence of 180 days. A judge may sentence a defendant to prison for 10 to 99 years for transferring more than 2000 pounds of marijuana.

Manufacture or Cultivation of Marijuana

Cultivation of marijuana – possessing and growing marijuana plants – is treated as “possession” and is punished according to the weight of all marijuana plants. The penalties are the same as for the possession of marijuana.

Synthetic Marijuana

Texas law criminalizes the possession and delivery of synthetic marijuana.

Investigators generally have to conduct extensive chemical tests on synthetic marijuana to determine if it contains chemicals prohibited under Texas law. 

The possible penalties for possessing synthetic marijuana are similar to those for organic marijuana and largely depend on the weight of the substance a defendant possesses.

Drug-Free School Zones – Texas Health and Safety Code 481.134

The penalty ranges of marijuana-related offenses are increased when they occur within the:

  • 1,000 feet of an institution owned, rented, or leased by an institution of higher learning;
  • 1,000 feet of a school or youth center;
  • On a school bus;
  • On the premises of a youth center or playground

These enhancements may mean extended periods of incarceration, higher fines, and imprisonment in prison instead of jail.

Defenses to Marijuana-Related Charges

The primary defense raised in many drug-related charges – including marijuana charges – addresses how officers obtained the drugs. It is not unusual for law enforcement officers to search a person, their belongings, home, or car without legal authority. When police violate the law, evidence they obtain from their actions can be challenged and possibly kept out of court.

In most cases, to search a residence or location where a person might have a sense of privacy, officers need a search warrant based on probable cause. But there are exceptions to this general rule. For these exceptions to apply, law enforcement officers must make precise and detailed reports and narratives. Their reports must include the facts that made obtaining a warrant from a judge extremely difficult under the circumstances.

However, a judge may keep illegally-obtained evidence out of court. Law enforcement officers would not have found the marijuana in question if it were not for the illegal search. Courts are not inclined to reward unlawful acts by police by allowing evidence to be presented at trial that officers illegally obtained. As a way of deterring unjust behavior by police, courts will exclude evidence obtained during an illegal search.

Contact me for a free case review if you are charged with possessing, delivering, or cultivating marijuana in Comal County or other Central Texas counties such as Hays County, Guadalupe County, Travis County, or Bexar County.