In many parts of the country, the laws surrounding marijuana (under Texas law, spelled “marihuana”) possession and use are changing. States like California have legalized smaller amounts for recreational use, and even neighboring states like Arkansas now allow it for medicinal purposes. For the most part, this trend has not made its way to Texas. If you are arrested with any amount of marijuana, you will be charged with possession of a controlled substance. The penalties for possessing marijuana in plant form can be serious, and the possession of the cannabinoid THC in concentrated form carries even harsher punishment.
That doesn't mean there hasn't been any progress. A growing contingent of activists continues to push for decriminalization of marijuana at the state level. In some jurisdictions, law enforcement now merely writes a citation for possession of small amounts of marijuana without arresting the person.
Despite these changes, the hard truth is that possession of marijuana or THC still carries penalties that can haunt you for a lifetime. If you have been arrested for the possession of marijuana or concentrated THC in the Houston, Texas area, the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. is here to help.
Attorney Doug Murphy is the strongest advocate for the accused in Houston and throughout Texas. He has years of experience in successfully defending his clients charged with possession of a controlled substance and a track record that reflects his success. Don't let a conviction for possession of marijuana cost you dearly. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for a free consultation.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the most common name for the drug derived from the cannabis plant. The leaves of the plant contain cannabinoids with psychoactive effects that are used for medical and recreational purposes. It is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with a slim majority of American adults claiming to have used marijuana at least once in their life.
The earliest uses of marijuana can be traced to the 3rd millennium BC. The plant is indigenous to Central Asia as well as the subcontinent of India. The plant has been used for rope and other purposes since the time of feudal Japan. While history is unclear on the first recorded use of cannabis for its psychoactive traits, there is a record of the ancient Assyrians using the drug in religious ceremonies in what is now Iran. It is known to have been used by 1000 BC in India and as far back as 2800 BC in China.
Marijuana has been heavily regulated across the world for years. The earliest regulation in the United States was in 1906 when the District of Columbia outlawed the drug. By the 1930s, marijuana was illegal in the United States and labeled as a dangerous drug by the World Health Organization. Despite recent reform efforts attempting to peel back marijuana restrictions, it remains illegal under federal law as well as in many states.
Physical Appearance of Marijuana
Cannabis is a green leafy plant. However, there is a large variety of forms the drug can be consumed in. The most common use of marijuana is smoking the plant. This typically involves burning the dried leaves in a pipe or rolled cigarette. A more recent trend is using marijuana in a vaporizer. This device heats marijuana to a temperature hot enough to activate the psychoactive ingredients in the plant without actually burning the leaves.
Another popular form of marijuana is cannabis tea. This method typically contains much smaller concentrations of THC compared to other forms. This is because THC is only partially water soluble, which leads to less of the active ingredient being released into the bloodstream.
Marijuana is also frequently cooked into food, known as edibles. A common practice is to cook marijuana into butter and use it in baking projects like brownies. It is also commonly consumed in the form of a drink in some countries like India. The drug can also come in capsule form.
What is THC?
To date, scientists have identified 113 different cannabinoids within cannabis. The most prominent of these is the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol. Better known as THC, this cannabinoid is the primary cause of the psychoactive effect marijuana is known for. It is believed that THC is a naturally occurring substance in marijuana designed to protect the plant from predators, ultraviolet light, and other environmental factors.
While the history of human use of marijuana goes back much farther, the THC cannabinoid was only discovered in the 1960s. It was initially isolated and identified by Israeli scientists in 1964 at the Weizmann Institute of Science. It was listed as a Schedule I substance by the World Health Organization in 1971, but there has been a move to reclassify it as a Schedule IV substance due to its medicinal use and low habit-forming potential. Ultimately, concentrated THC is defined as a resin extracted from the cannabis plant or a compound, salt, derivative, or mixture that includes the resin.
Physical Appearance of Concentrated THC
THC in its concentrated form can come in a wide variety of forms. One of the most common forms is concentrated THC in a waxy state. The wax is very sticky, which requires the use of a dab tool. Other forms include:
- Oil. Concentrated THC can also come in the form of an oil, which is prepared using agents like butane or CO2.
- Dried. It can also be dried out, leaving the substance in a dried, flaky form.
- Glass. In its purest form, concentrated THC can be condensed into a glass-like state that shatters upon impact with anything firm.
- Mixed. It is also possible to combine these states; a popular mix is a butter-like substance that is part wax and part dried concentrate. These mixes are often cut with other substances but routinely contain at least 70% THC by volume.
- Gummy. A recent trend in consuming concentrated THC is through marijuana gummies.
Common Street Names
Some of the common street names for marijuana are:
- Mary Jane
- Aunt Mary
- Boom Boom
- Baby Bhang
- Bobo Bush
- Dinkie Dow
- Dona Juana
- Flower Tops
- Giggle Smoke
- Good Giggles
- Good Butt
- Kind Bud
- Hot Stick
- Jolly Green
- Joy Smoke
- Joy Stick
Some of the common street names for concentrated THC are:
- Butane Hash Oil
- Butane Honey Oil
- Butterfly Wax
- Honey Oil
- Honey Butane
- Black Glass
- Ear Wax
What are the effects of marijuana and THC?
The most common effect of marijuana is the “high” feeling that is described as a change in mood and perception. An increase in appetite is also frequently reported and is one of the most common medical benefits for patients that struggle with lack of appetite.
The side effects of marijuana use can include:
- memory loss,
- loss of motor skills, and
- red eyes.
These effects typically take effect in a matter of minutes when marijuana is smoked. When consumed in edible form, it can take up to an hour to take effect and then can last for up to six hours in some people.
The effects of concentrated THC are the same as marijuana given that they are derived from the same cannabinoid. However, concentrated THC is far more potent than the plant form of marijuana. In some cases, it can be four or five times stronger than even the most potent smoked marijuana.
Because of the higher concentration, the effects of THC can be far more intense than those of marijuana. Use of concentrated THC can lead to:
- extreme paranoia,
- panic attacks, and even
In some cases, the concentrated form of the drug can impact heart rate and blood pressure.
How are marijuana and THC classified under federal law?
Under federal law, every controlled substance is categorized into one of five federal drug schedules. These schedules are set out by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, and the act spells out which substance is in which of the five schedules. Schedule I drugs are considered the most serious, while Schedule V drugs are the least serious. Schedule I drugs often have no medical value or are extremely addictive.
According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, both marijuana and concentrated THC are Schedule I drugs. This is despite a long-term push to have marijuana transferred to a lower schedule due to the lack of addictive properties and the long list of medicinal uses. Other schedule I drugs include peyote, LSD, ecstasy, and heroin.
How are marijuana and THC classified under Texas state law?
Texas categorizes its controlled substances a little differently than the structure set up in federal law. In Texas, controlled substances are assigned to one of six drug penalty groups. Created by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, these penalty groups contain every controlled substance listed in the federal schedules except for marijuana, which is treated differently. The penalty groups are:
- Penalty Group 1
- Penalty Group 1A
- Penalty Group 2
- Penalty Group 2A
- Penalty Group 3
- Penalty Group 4
Every drug penalty group has a range of potential sentences. If you are convicted of drug possession in Texas, your potential sentence will depend on the penalty group the drug is a member of as well as the amount of the drug in your possession. Typically, Penalty Group 1 carries the stiffest penalties while penalty group 4 carries lesser sentences.
As mentioned above, marijuana is the one controlled substance that is not listed in any of the penalty groups. It carries its own sentencing range and is one of the few substances under Texas law that is a misdemeanor to possess in small amounts. Possession of four ounces or less is a misdemeanor under Texas law, but larger amounts will result in a felony charge. At the highest end, possessing more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana can lead to a prison sentence of up to 99 years as well a maximum fine of $10,000.
The consequences for a conviction for possession of THC in its concentrated form are much more serious that simply possessing any part of the cannabis plant. Concentrated THC is listed under penalty group two, making it one of the heaviest regulated substances under Texas law. Possession of any amount of concentrated THC oil is a felony, no matter how small. Possessing less than a gram is a state jail felony that carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison. On the highest end, possession of more than 400 grams of concentrated THC carries a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $50,000. Other substances in penalty group 2 include ecstasy, PCP, and peyote.
Hiring the Best Houston Drug Possession Attorney
Whether you have been arrested for possession of a joint or a form of concentrated THC oil, the consequences for a conviction of drug possession under Texas law can haunt you forever. In most cases, you face the potential of being labeled a convicted felon for the rest of your life. Not only will that carry a prison sentence and a hefty fine, but you will also face the difficulty of obtaining employment or housing with a felony conviction on your criminal record.
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana or THC in Houston, Texas, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. immediately. Doug Murphy is an experienced defense attorney who has made a career out of aggressively advocating for his clients. He treats every case as if it would ultimately go to trial before a jury of your peers. That approach has led to successful outcomes for many of his clients. Want to discuss your case with a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law? Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation right away.