Texas marijuana laws evolve at the state, county, and local level.
Laws and attitudes about marijuana are rapidly evolving in the U.S. and Texas. It can be challenging to keep up with what's considered a marijuana crime and what isn't.
While other states have legalized marijuana, Texas has not shifted in that direction. As a result, in many scenarios, marijuana possession, use, and distribution are serious crimes in Texas.
Marijuana is treated differently by federal, state, and local governments. This can make understanding the rules, charges against you, and the penalties you face very confusing. An experienced Texas marijuana defense attorney can explain how the law applies to your situation, possible penalties, and strategies for your defense.
If you are facing marijuana charges in Montgomery, Harris, or Waller County, get a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney with a long track record of success. The Webb Firm, P.C. is a go-to law office for people charged with marijuana crimes. Contact us today to schedule your free case consultation.
Federal, Texas, and local marijuana laws
Some lawmakers and advocates are fighting to maintain harsh penalties like hefty fines and incarceration even for seemingly minor incidents. Meanwhile, many communities are passing ordinances to soften penalties for possession of cannabis in small quantities.
Here is a general breakdown of marijuana's legal status:
Federal: Marijuana is illegal to sell, cultivate, manufacture, possess, or use, with few exceptions. Possessing even a little marijuana is a federal crime that could be punished by up to 1 year of incarceration. That said, low-level marijuana offenses are at the bottom of the federal government's list of priorities, so federal prosecution for individual possession is extremely rare.
Texas: It is illegal to possess and/or use recreational marijuana in Texas. Medicinal marijuana is legal, but only for those accepted into the state's Compassionate Use Program. CBD, hemp, and Delta-8 are all legal in the state, although Delta-8's legal status is being challenged in court.
The penalties for marijuana possession in Texas include:
- Possession of paraphernalia (no marijuana) - Class C misdemeanor, fine up to $500.
- Possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana - Class B misdemeanor, up to 180 days incarceration, fine up to $2,000.
- Possession of 2 ounces to 4 ounces of marijuana - Class A misdemeanor, up to 1 year of incarceration, fine up to $4,000.
- Possession of 4 ounces to 5 pounds - State jail felony, 180 days to two years of incarceration, fine up to $10,000.
- Possession of 5 to 50 pounds - 3rd degree felony, 2 to 10 years of incarceration, fine up to $10,000.
- Possession of 50 to 2,000 pounds - 2nd degree felony, 2 to 20 years of incarceration, fine up to $10,000.
- Over 2,000 pounds - 1st degree felony, 5 years to 99 years or life, fine up to $50,000.
In addition, possessing THC not in the leaf form is possession of a controlled substance, which is always charged as a felony. For example, possessing one cartridge of THC oil is a felony that will land you in state prison, whereas possessing one marijuana joint is a misdemeanor.
Texas law also criminalizes the sale and delivery of marijuana; up 1/4 ounce is a misdemeanor, while anything over that amount is a felony.
- Delivery of up to 1/4 ounce without payment - Class B misdemeanor, up to 180 days incarceration, fine up to $2,000.
- Delivery of up to 1/4 ounce and receives payment - Class A misdemeanor, up to 1 year of incarceration, fine up to $4,000.
- Delivery of 1/4 ounce to 5 pounds - State jail felony, 180 days to two years of incarceration, fine up to $10,000.
- Delivery of 5 to 50 pounds - 2nd degree felony, 2 to 20 years of incarceration, fine up to $10,000.
- Delivery of 50 to 2,000 pounds - 1st degree felony, 5 years to life in prison, fine up to $10,000.
- Delivery of over 2,000 pounds - Enhanced 1st degree felony, 15 years to life in prison, fine up to $100,000.
Local: A dozen or so communities, including Houston, have ordinances that discourage physically arresting people for alleged possession of a small amount of marijuana. Instead, they cite and release the accused. However, cite and release is not decriminalization. Those cited still face the same charges and penalties under Texas law, but without the added hassle of being arrested.
It is possible to be physically arrested and prosecuted for possession of small amounts of marijuana in communities that encourage cite and release. Police and prosecutors have the discretion to apply local regulations or not.
Montgomery County is particularly hard on people accused of marijuana possession and does not generally practice cite and release. In MoCo, if you are caught with marijuana, it is very likely that you will be arrested and criminally prosecuted.
For instance, across the U.S., hemp was legalized several years ago. However, because the plant is so similar looking to marijuana and many police departments lack the resources to test the substance once it has been manufactured into a gummy, cookie, or vape oil, small possession prosecution plummeted. Harris County saw a 91 percent drop in the prosecution of such charges, and most other counties in the Houston area saw substantial drops as well. In contrast, Montgomery County was the only county in the area where marijuana prosecutions actually increased after hemp legalization.
Your freedom is our priority.
A former assistant district attorney, attorney Amanda Webb has an insider's understanding of the Texas criminal justice system and how to get results in Montgomery County. If you are facing charges, schedule a free case consultation with The Webb Firm, P.C.
There are no obligations, just honest answers about your legal rights and options. Contact us today to learn more. Our law firm serves Montgomery County, the Houston Area, The Woodlands Area, Conroe, and Waller County.