How to Avoid a Marijuana Possession Charge
Marijuana has a long history of use as an herbal medicine, starting in Asia around 500 BC. In 1937, the first federal law was enacted to criminalize marijuana. In 1997, California became the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana for people who had severe or chronic illnesses. Then the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp.
While both marijuana and hemp are botanically the same plants, Cannabis sativa, there are legal differences. Hemp must have less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that causes the psychoactive high. In Texas, you may legally consume hemp that does not exceed 0.3% THC. All other forms are considered a schedule 1 controlled substance and are illegal.
The shape of marijuana regulations is being radically changed across the U.S., but little has changed with regard to marijuana possession charges in Texas. While hemp is legal, Texas still has some of the harshest marijuana laws, and they come with stiff penalties. The state does have a limited medical marijuana program in which patients are allowed cannabis with not more than 0.5% THC. However, the marijuana must be consumed and not smoked.
What Are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas?
Under Texas law, simple possession of two oz. or less of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor. You can get up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. As the amount of marijuana goes up, so does the punishment. For example, more than four oz. is a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail and a maximum of two years. You may also be fined up to $10,000.
The sale of marijuana is also illegal. Distribution of seven grams or less without monetary exchange carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. However, if you accept money for the same amount, you can spend up to one year in jail with a fine of $4,000. Selling anything over seven grams is a felony with more severe punishment.
If law enforcement finds you are cultivating marijuana, it is treated as the same as possession. This means the same weight limits and penalties will apply. For example, possession between five and fifty pounds is a felony with a maximum prison sentence of ten years and a $10,000 fine. There are also harsh penalties for marijuana concentrates, including hashish and hash oil. These concentrates have several street names, including:
- Wax or ear wax
- Honey oil
- Dabs (dabbing)
- Black glass
These concentrates come from the trichomes that line the surface of the plant head. Possession of less than one gram of one of these concentrates carries a sentence of at least 180 days in jail, up to two years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. Possession of four to 400 grams carries a minimum sentence of two years and a maximum of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $10,000. More than 400 grams carries a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
What Should I Do if I’m Arrested for Possession of Marijuana?
A traffic stop is one common circumstance that leads to an arrest for possession. However, no matter where you might be, once you are arrested for marijuana possession, there are some steps you can take that can help your experienced criminal defense attorney reduce the charges or get the charges dropped.
The first step is not to drive or be in public while in possession of marijuana. In reality, the best way to avoid a charge is to avoid being in possession. Your views of the fairness of the marijuana laws or whether another state has less severe punishments are not considered. You risk arrest and jail time anytime you have marijuana or any other controlled substance on your person when you leave home.
If you are pulled over by the police for a traffic stop, be very careful about what you say. The police are trained to watch for any clue that you may be hiding something in your car. If law enforcement suspects you may be carrying a controlled substance, they can ask you to leave your car and call for a drug dog to search your vehicle.
It is crucial that you also watch how you behave while interacting with law enforcement. Police officers are trained to listen to what you say and watch how you act. Any indication that you may be under the influence of a controlled substance or maybe carrying some in your car increases the risk that you’ll be arrested. If the police officer suspects there is a crime, he can request a search warrant for the vehicle. This will uncover any illegal substance or weapon that you may have stored there.
Under the constitution, you have the right to remain silent and request an attorney. Law enforcement does not have the right to do an unlawful search and seizure of your vehicle or your home. The police officer may conduct a search of your person if they believe you may have a weapon that may harm them. Anything they find during that search is legally obtained. They may search your car if they believe you have said something or acted in a way that indicated you have a controlled substance or weapon hidden in your vehicle.
You have the right to have a criminal defense attorney present during questioning and represent you in court. One of the most important steps you can take after being arrested for possession of marijuana is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. You need an attorney with the skills to fight to protect your rights and seek a successful outcome in your case. You want a tenacious lawyer from Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian who will listen to your story and fight aggressively to protect your rights. Call our office today at (972) 369-0577 for your free, confidential consultation.