With the landscape of marijuana possession laws rapidly changing in America, unique challenges are presenting themselves to law enforcement. With major differences in marijuana laws from one state to another, there is confusion among many on whether or not it is legal to bring marijuana into Texas from a state where it was purchased legally. Under current Texas state law, the answer to that question is no.
The laws surrounding marijuana use and drug possession are rapidly changing across the country. In fact, every state that borders Texas allows for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes when prescribed by a doctor. Below are the states that border Texas, and the year they adopted medical marijuana.
- Arkansas: 2016
- Oklahoma: 2018
- Louisiana: 2016
- New Mexico: 2007
But while neighboring states allow for medical marijuana, nearby Colorado has legalized the possession of recreational pot since 2015. With few limits on purchasing marijuana in Colorado, pot from that state has been found to increasingly make its way home with Texans returning to the Lone Star State after a visit to Colorado. Unfortunately for them, Texas treats marijuana purchases legally elsewhere the same as if it came from any other source. For many, this means felony charges even though the marijuana was purchased lawfully elsewhere.
The good news is that these cases are defensible. Attorney Doug Murphy has an extensive record in defending those accused of possessing marijuana or concentrated THC, and he frequently obtains favorable results on behalf of his clients.
The Risks of Entering Texas with Marijuana
Unfortunately for Texas residents hoping to return to Texas with marijuana or concentrated THC products, the marijuana laws in Texas are notoriously strict. The consequences for possessing these items can be severe, including jail time and fines. A conviction for possession can also carry other collateral consequences. With a drug conviction on your record, it may be difficult to obtain housing or find employment. If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to vote or own firearms.
Possession of marijuana is a serious matter, and if arrested you should contact a Houston drug crimes lawyer immediately. An attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charges against you reduced or even dropped. If the case continues to trial, an attorney can present your best available defense to a jury of your peers. Being arrested and charged for possession of marijuana can be a stressful experience, but the right attorney will give you the best chance at avoiding a conviction and getting on with your life.
Entering the State with Marijuana
When you enter the State of Texas with marijuana in your possession it can cost you dearly. This includes dried marijuana flowers, leafy parts of the plant, or other consumable items with marijuana inside.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor under Texas law. But that doesn't guarantee you won't face serious consequences if convicted. A Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail, the penalties are notably higher if you possess more than 4 ounces of pot. Below is the full list of penalties for possessing marijuana in Texas.
- Possession of 2 ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 days as well as a fine of up to $2,000.
- Possession between 2 and 4 ounces: Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail sentence of one year as well as a fine of up to $4,000.
- Possession of between 4 ounces and 5 pounds: State jail felony that carries a sentence between 180 days and 2 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of between 5 and 50 pounds: Third-degree felony that carries a sentence between 2 and 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of between 50 and 2,000 pounds: Second-degree felony that carries a sentence of between 2 and 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of more than 2,000 pounds: Felony that carries a sentence of between 5 and 99 years in prison as well as a fine of no more than $50,000.
Entering the State with Concentrated THC
While the penalties for possession of marijuana are harsh, you will face much stiffer punishment for entering the State of Texas with any form of THC concentrate. In fact, possessing any amount of concentrated THC is a felony under Texas law. THC concentrates can come in many forms, including waxes, powders, and sugars. They can be eaten in crystal form or sprinkled on food. The most common form of THC concentrates in recent years has become oils, however. These oils can be mixed with food or drink and are easy to ingest.
Punishment for Possessing THC Concentrates
THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, one of 113 different cannabinoids within marijuana. This cannabinoid is the primary cause of the psychoactive effects the drug has. Because of its concentrated nature, the psychoactive effects of THC are much more powerful than marijuana. This has led the State of Texas to punish possession of concentrated THC much more severely than mere possession of marijuana.
In fact, THC is part of drug penalty group two, one of the most regulated drug penalties groups under Texas law. For reference, this penalty group also includes such hard street drugs as ecstasy and PCP. Below, we review the potential penalties for possessing THC concentrates in Houston.
- Possession of less than 1 gram: State jail felony that carries a sentence between 180 days and 2 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of between 1 and 4 grams: Third-degree felony that carries a sentence between 2 and 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of between 4 and 400 grams: Second-degree felony that carries a sentence of between 2 and 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of more than 400 grams: First-degree felony that carries a sentence of between 5 and 99 years in prison as well as a fine of no more than $50,000.
The real danger in a possession case that involves concentrated THC stems from when the drug is mixed with other substances, like food. In these cases, crime labs will attempt to reverse engineer the substance to determine the volume of THC oil in it. However, that isn't always possible. In some cases, you could wind up facing charges for the weight of the substances that are not even illegal. For example, a tray of pot brownies might only contain a few grams of THC. But if you are charged based on the weight of the brownies, that small amount of concentrate could have you risking life in prison.
In cases like this, the value of an experienced Houston drug crimes lawyer can't be overstated. In one recent case, a 19-year old initially faced a maximum sentence of life in prison for possession of two batches of THC brownies, until the crime lab was able luckily able to determine there were less than 3 grams of THC in each batch. The right attorney may be able to take a dire situation like this one and turn it around by having the charges reduced or even dismissed.
The Compassionate Use Act
Despite pressure to soften marijuana laws, Texas has largely resisted adopting the changes many other states have made. The one exception is the Texas Compassionate Use Act. However, this Act merely allows the purchase and possession of oils infused with cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive substance found in marijuana. Also known as CBD, this oil is used to treat seizures and reduce pain. Unfortunately, only a handful of doctors meet the criteria to prescribe CBD, and it is only available to patients treating for epilepsy. The Compassionate Use Act will not provide you with a defense if you are arrested for entering the state with marijuana or concentrated THC from another state.
Hiring the Best Houston Drug Possession Lawyer
Whether you were arrested for entering the Houston with marijuana or THC concentrates, your best chance at a positive outcome is to hire a criminal defense attorney you can rely on. Without one, you risk spending the rest of your life dealing with the consequences of having a drug conviction on your record. These consequences are only compounded if you are also labeled as a convicted felon.
Attorney Doug Murphy has spent his career helping people defend themselves against drug crime charges. He is a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law with a proven track record of success at the trial level. While some defense attorneys will push you to take the first plea offer that comes along, Doug Murphy prepares every case as if it were going to trial. He believes this approach gives his clients the best shot at the outcome they are hoping for. To discuss your case with a Board Certified expert, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation.