Although sentiments about marijuana are changing across the country and state, possession of marijuana is still illegal in Texas. In fact, not even medical marijuana is legal in Texas, save for patients who qualify for the narrow Texas Compassionate Use Act.
The psychoactive compound found in marijuana is called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Marijuana may have strains with THC concentrate levels up to 30 percent while other cannabinoids like hemp must have less than 0.3 percent. In order to be charged with possession of marijuana, you must be in possession of a “useable quantity” of marijuana. Examples of useable quantities include one-half ounce of marijuana or one hand-rolled cigarette weighing as little as a third of a gram.
If you are facing a Tarrant County Possession of Marijuana charge, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible who understands the current legal landscape. Although the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office continues to prosecute low-level marijuana cases, there are some options in play that can lessen your exposure to the criminal justice system and possibly result in your case being dismissed or reduced. Contact our office today to speak with a seasoned Tarrant County defense attorney and learn more.
Is possession of marijuana (POM) legal in Texas?
No, possession of marijuana is NOT legal in Texas. However, due to a recent change in the state’s hemp laws, the prosecution of marijuana has become notably harder. House Bill 1325 legalized hemp with a THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less. Considering that hemp and marijuana can look identical and that most crime labs currently cannot determine the concentration of THC in a given sample, successful prosecution of Tarrant County Possession of Marijuana cases has gotten exponentially more expensive. As a result, the number of new marijuana cases filed in Tarrant County dropped by 68% since the hemp law passed. However, Tarrant County DA Sharen Wilson has stated that her office will continue to prosecute cases involving more than 4 ounces of marijuana and that dismissed cases can still be refiled and prosecuted with the appropriate lab work. If you are facing a possession of marijuana charge in Tarrant County, there is now a better opportunity to get misdemeanor possession charges dismissed or reduced by one of our experienced Tarrant County criminal defense attorneys.
What if I received a ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia?
Even if you are not charged with Tarrant County possession of marijuana, you could be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if police find with common items involved in using, packaging, or mixing drugs like pipes, bongs, rolling papers, grinders, or scales.
Although possession of drug paraphernalia is punishable by a ticket with a maximum $500 fine, be wary of just paying it. Paying it off would be considered a guilty plea that results in a final conviction that comes with collateral consequences such as a permanent conviction on your record and suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days. In addition, possession of drug paraphernalia may be considered a “drug conviction” for federal student aid purposes, which means that that you may not qualify for federal grants or loans as a result of paying off a possession of drug paraphernalia ticket. If you get a possession of drug paraphernial ticket, it’s important to speak with our experienced attorneys to explore your options as they may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.
What are the penalties for possession of marijuana?
This table outlines the penalties for possession of marijuana (POM) and possession of drug paraphernalia (PODP).
|Offense||Penalty||Possible Jail Time||Max. Fine|
|Possession of Drug Para.||Class C Misdemeanor||None||$500|
|POM Under 2 ounces||Class B Misdemeanor||180 days||$ 2,000|
|2 – 4 ounces||Class A Misdemeanor||1 year||$ 4,000|
|4 oz – 5lbs||State Jail Felony||180 days* – 2 years||$ 10,000|
|5 – 50 lbs||Third Degree Felony||2* – 10 years||$ 10,000|
|50 – 2000 lbs||Second Degree Felony||2* – 20 years||$ 10,000|
|More than 2000 lbs||First Degree Felony||5* – 99 years||$ 50,000|
* mandatory minimum sentences
When thinking about the possession of marijuana penalties, there are several things to keep in mind.
First, wax, hash, or any marijuana concentrates are classified as Penalty Group II drugs, meaning that even possession under a gram will result in a felony charge.
Second, if you are charged with POM in a Drug Free Zone like a school or playground, the penalty is increased one level higher. For example, if you were charged with possessing 3 ounces of marijuana, instead of facing up to a year and a $4,000 fine, you may instead face 180 days to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Third, when calculating drug weights, Texas considers the weight of adulterants and dilutants. This means that if you are caught with edibles made from marijuana buds, you will be charged for the weight of the edible even if only a couple grams of marijuana were used to make it, and it will be charged as possession of a substance containing THC as opposed to possession of marijuana.
Lastly, all drug-related convictions will result in suspension of your driver’s license. If you are under the age of 21, your license will be suspended for a year. If over 21, your license will be suspended for 180 days. In order to get your license back, you have to complete a 15-hour drug offender education class and pay a reinstatement fee.
What are the possible defenses for possession of marijuana?
When defending Tarrant County Possession of Marijuana cases, our firm aims to help our clients avoid jail time, avoid convictions, and resolve the case in a way that allows for future expunction or non-disclosure. Of course, since the facts of each case vary, so will the defense strategy.
Attack Possession: A prosecutor must prove that you were in possession of the marijuana. Possession can be active or constructive. Active possession typically involves marijuana being found on your person, while constructive possession refers police attempting to connect you to marijuana found elsewhere like inside cars or homes. In order to satisfy constructive possession of the found marijuana, a person must have had the ability and intent to exercise custody and control over it. Since it is possible for multiple people to possess something simultaneously, juries must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the marijuana in question was yours in order to be convicted.
Hemp vs. Marijuana: The prosecutor must be able to prove the substance in question has a THC concentration of at least .03%. The cases are ripe for attacks on the ability of a lab to make this determination.
Attack amount: Our defense attorneys can dispute whether the evidence found is actually marijuana or alternatively, argue that the quantity is not high enough for a possession charge. Additionally, if a defendant can prove that the quantity actually weighed less than the amount they were charged with, then they could receive a lesser charge, and consequently, a lesser punishment.
Fruit of the poisonous tree: Any evidence found through an illegal stop, an illegal search and seizure, prolonged detentions, bad dog sniffs, or that went through a compromised chain of custody may possibly get thrown out. Because these issues concern your constitutional rights, a violation may result in evidence being suppressed, meaning that it cannot be used against you by the prosecution.
What is a possible outcome for Tarrant County possession of marijuana charge?
Tarrant County has implemented a limited-supervision program for first-time drug offenders called the First Offender Drug Program (FODP). As the title of the program implies, you must be a first-time offender in order to qualify for this program so you must not have current pending cases for other offenses, currently be or previously have been on probation, nor have any convictions for offenses other than Class C misdemeanors.
Tarrant County also has the Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP), which is available for offenders who, at the time of the offense, were aged 17 to 24. Applicants must not have been previously convicted or supervised for a Class B offense or above and must be willing and able to rehabilitate themselves.
Tarrant County also recently implemented the Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Initiative (DPI) for first-time offenders who are facing certain drug charges, especially marijuana and THC cases. If you complete your program, your case will be dismissed.
What should you do if you’ve been arrested for Tarrant County possession of marijuana?
If you’ve been arrested for possession of marijuana in Tarrant county, it is crucial to contact a Tarrant County marijuana lawyer for legal help as soon as possible. Our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience and a track record of proven results. Contact us today for a free consultation.