Texas Marijuana Laws: Charges, Penalties & Defense Strategies

"Who can help me with my drug crime case?"
Houston criminal defense lawyer Neal Davis understands
weed laws in Texas.

Schedule an Appointment

Laws surrounding marijuana—also referred to as Mary Jane, cannabis, weed, pot and other street names—are a hot topic in much of the United States. A growing number of states and territories have relaxed laws regarding cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Many other states are in the process of drafting legislature to update their cannabis laws.

Some states, like Washington and Colorado, have fully legalized the use of marijuana, while others have chosen to restrict the usage of the drug with more conservative measures. Other states have used the legislative process to legalize the herb and its derivatives, rather than the ballot initiative through voter support.

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime of possession or distribution of marijuana, it’s important you fully understand your state’s laws regarding cannabis use. Just because weed is illegal in another state doesn’t mean it’s allowed where you live—and it doesn’t mean that prosecutors and judges will go easier on you during sentencing.

This is why it’s important to hire an experienced and knowledgeable drug crime defense attorney.

What are Texas’ marijuana laws?

While Texas has shifted its stance in recent years to allow for the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons, the state has not yet decriminalized marijuana.

The location of the person when arrested for marijuana possession is what determines how severe the penalties and consequences of violating Texas marijuana laws will be. For example, in McLennan County, possession of .1 ounce of marijuana is enough to arrest a person.

Once on probation, past users of marijuana have been restricted from traveling outside the county, are required to drug test with regular frequency, and are forbidden from consuming alcohol or visiting bars.

The financial costs of a marijuana conviction, even a first-time offense, can amount to more than $5,000 after attorney fees, drug testing, probation fines, charges and court costs.

Texas marijuana statistics

According to the Department of Public Safety, nearly 379,000 Texans were arrested for being in possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana. According to figures from 2017, an estimated 128 million Americans have tried marijuana and over 55 million residents use the drug regularly.

Whether it’s your first or fifth criminal conviction, consequences of using marijuana in Texas can be severe, depending on current regulation and your past criminal activity.

Recent updates to Texas’ marijuana laws and legalization

While some state officials are attempting to change the laws regarding marijuana from criminal to civil offenses with smaller fines (i.e. a maximum fine of $250 for an ounce or smaller of the drug), those changes haven’t happened yet. This means marijuana users charged with a crime today face severe penalties that can negatively impact the rest of their lives, even if marijuana is legalized tomorrow.

Under recently proposed laws, penalties for marijuana possession would only charge a defendant with a crime if the person is fined more than 3 times, leading to a misdemeanor criminal charge.

Some Texas counties, such as Dallas County, are more relaxed than others. Even though marijuana possession or distribution is still a criminal offense across the state, the office of District Attorney is declining prosecution for first-time offenders, instead choosing to prioritize violent crimes.

However, this is not a guarantee of protection. Freedom from consequences is not a certainty, meaning that users of marijuana still need to consider the risk of getting caught by local law enforcement. In other places like Houston and Harris County, officials believe that law enforcement shouldn’t have the discretion to be lenient and should enforce state laws as written.

Why are Texas marijuana punishments so harsh?

Many law enforcement agencies remain committed to prosecuting drug possession because they see it as a gateway drug to harder substances like opiods, heroin, meth and cocaine. These agencies are more inclined to be as strict as possible when recommending penalties and sentences for marijuana users. These agencies claim that harsh measures act as a deterrent to discourage people from further drug use or exploration.

In the future, there might be change in how Texas views marijuana. But right now, the penalties are harsh for marijuana users.

Texas marijuana penalties

In Texas, the punishment for a marijuana crime depends on 3 factors:

  • How much marijuana was in your possession when arrested
  • Your intended purpose of having the illegal marijuana (to sell, to possess, to cultivate, etc.)
  • Whether or not you’ve been previously charged with a crime

Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor. According to Texas Penal Code §12.22:

An individual adjudged guilty of a Class B misdemeanor shall be punished by:

(1) a fine not to exceed $2,000;
(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days;  or
(3) both such fine and confinement.

Also, a person's driver's license is automatically suspended after final conviction of a drug offense.

Here are several charts showing the possible penalties for different types of marijuana crimes in Texas:

Marijuana Possession & Cultivation

Amount Crime Prison time Maximum fine
2 oz or less Misdemeanor 180 days $2,000
2 - 4 oz Misdemeanor 1 year $4,000
4 oz to 5 lbs Felony 180 days* - 2 years $10,000
5 - 50 lbs Felony 2* - 10 years $10,000
50 - 2,000 lbs Felony 2* - 20 years $10,000
More than 2,000 lbs Felony 5* - 99 years $50,000

Marijuana Sale & Distribution

Amount Crime Prison time Maximum fine
7 g or less (for no money) Misdemeanor 180 days $2,000
7 g or less Misdemeanor 1 year $4,000
7 g to 5 lbs Felony 180 days* - 2 years $10,000
5 - 50 lbs Felony 2* - 20 years $10,000
50 - 2,000 lbs Felony 5* - 99 years $10,000

Hash & Concentrates

Amount Crime Prison time Maximum fine
Possession of less than 1 g Felony 180 days - 2 years $10,000
Possession of 1 - 4 g Felony 2 - 10 years $10,000
Possession of 4 - 400 g Felony 2 - 20 years $10,000
Possession of more than 400 g Felony 10 years - life $50,000
Manufacture or delivery of less than 1 g Felony 180 days - 2 years $10,000
Manufacture or delivery of 1 - 4 g Felony 2 - 20 years $10,000
Manufacture or delivery of 4 - 400 g Felony 5 - 99 years $10,000
Manufacture or delivery of more than 400 g Felony 10 years - life $10,000

Marijuana Paraphernalia

Amount Crime Prison time Maximum fine
Possession of paraphernalia Misdemeanor N/A $500
Sale of paraphernalia (first offense) Misdemeanor 1 year $4,000
Sale of paraphernalia (subsequent offense) Felony 90 days* - 1 year $4,000
To a minor Felony 180 days* - 2 years $10,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence

Why hire a Texas marijuana defense attorney

Even possession under 1 ounce, according to Texas marijuana laws, can cost a person greatly. The reality of marijuana use and its penalties in Texas is sobering and rife with financial risk—not to mention the potential for loss of freedom and emotional hardship. This reality lingers well after the prison sentence is served and the fines paid. Finding a job and a home after suffering the consequences of a marijuana conviction remains a difficult and daunting task for many people. It’s often a struggle to live normally after an arrest and imprisonment.

To protect your future, the best defense when charged with possession or distribution of marijuana is to have the representation of an experienced lawyer. The Neal Davis Law Firm can help minimize the consequences and penalties of marijuana use so that you can get back to normal life as quickly as possible.

Drug Offenses: Punishment & Defense Strategy

FREE E-BOOK

Learn all about the legal process and your legal rights.

Get Your Free Copy Now

Board Certified, Criminal Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization (2009-2021), AV Rated by Martindale Hubbell (2015), and listed as a Best Lawyer in America (2015-2020)
Muy satisfechos con su trabajo
Tia de J.C.
5-star review image
Got my life back
K.W.
5-star review image
He doesn't give up, no matter what you're up against
M.F.
5-star review image

Read All Reviews