Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Know Your State's Marijuana Laws: It Could Keep You Out of Prison

By "Radical" Russ Belville

We reported about a California Man Set to Be Extradited to Texas to Face Marijuana Charge this week.  In the story, the man is using cannabis for medical purposes with his doctor’s recommendation, all legal in California.  But he visited Texas and took with him 1/4 oz of marijuana and 1/2 oz of hashish.  We reported the man is now facing 5-99 years in a Texas prison.

This led an concerned reader to look up our State Laws page for Texas.

“So,” our reader asks, “Texas is saying that you can sell a ton, literally, and get just as much jail time as someone with 1/4oz of weed and 1/2oz hash. I’m confused.”

Well, actually, you could sell just fifty pounds and get that 5-99, but we get your point.  The problem (and I’m going to have us address this on future editions of the pages) is that in Texas, hash ain’t marijuana.

Our own John Lucy reviewed state hash laws, though I can’t tell you how old this page is and we certainly need to follow up on this (so please, don’t take it as legal advice on hash – seek your own counsel!)  It appears there are just 22 states and DC* that treat hash the same as marijuana.

Texas is not one of them.  Hashish is a felony under Tex. Health & Safety Code 481.103 & Sec. 481.116, as it is in most of the states that have separate definitions for hashish.

481.103, describing “Penalty Group 2? substances, in part:

Tetrahydrocannabinols, other than marihuana, and synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the plant, or in the resinous extractives of Cannabis, or synthetic substances, derivatives, and their isomers with similar chemical structure and pharmacological activity such as:
delta-1 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and their optical isomers;
delta-6 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and their optical isomers;
delta-3, 4 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and its optical isomers;
compounds of these structures, regardless of numerical designation of atomic positions, since nomenclature of these substances is not internationally standardized;

481.116, describing punishments for “Penalty Group 2? substances:

(a) Except as authorized by this chapter, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 2, unless the person obtained the substance directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice.
(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a state jail felony if the amount of the controlled substance possessed is, by aggregate weight, including adulterants or dilutants, less than one gram.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree if the amount of the controlled substance possessed is, by aggregate weight, including adulterants or dilutants, one gram or more but less than four grams.
(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree if the amount of the controlled substance possessed is, by aggregate weight, including adulterants or dilutants, four grams or more but less than 400 grams.
(e) An offense under Subsection (a) is punishable by imprisonment in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for a term of not more than 99 years or less than five years, and a fine not to exceed $50,000, if the amount of the controlled substance possessed is, by aggregate weight, including adulterants or dilutants, 400 grams or more.

So, it seems since he had an assumed 14 grams (1/2 ounce), he’d be covered under Subsection (d), not (e). But perhaps there are other circumstances moving the penalty to the (e) range. What I can find on Texas sentencing guidelines for 2nd degree felonies is two to twenty years in prison and possible fine not exceed $10,000. For a half ounce of hash, the baseline penalty is the same for:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Arson
  • Bigamy
  • Bribery
  • Evading arrest (and death of another occurs)
  • Improper relationship between educator and student
  • Indecent contact with a child
  • Intoxication manslaughter
  • Manslaughter
  • Online solicitation of a minor under fourteen
  • Possession of fifty to 2000 pounds of marijuana
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking—second offense
  • Trafficking of persons

Got that?  Four grams of hash equals fifty pounds of pot in Texas.  You will be punished as severely for holding a little over an eighth-ounce of hash as if you had killed a person while drunk.  You will do the same time as a teacher who seduces a student or a perv who solicits little kids online or touches them inappropriately.  You are as reprehensible as the coyotes trafficking immigrants across the border, a repeat stalker and date-rapist, a thief, a polygamist, or an arsonist.

Another thing to consider: re-read that part about “if the amount of the controlled substance possessed is, by aggregate weight, including adulterants or dilutants“.  By aggregate weight means we’re weighing the whole thing, not just the weight on the cannabinoids.  So if you’ve made marijuana brownies, for instance, you’re not facing charges for the 1/4 ounce of pot you put in them.  You’re facing charges for 12 ounces of a Penalty Group 2 substance in Texas.

*Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.  However, I know the Lucy page is out-of-date because it lists Oklahoma, which recently enacted draconian life in prison penalties for hashish.


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