Possession of a controlled substance, the nuances of what constitutes a drug crime and what happens when a person has been caught aren’t topics most people like to talk about openly. In spite of confusing laws and even some changing attitudes, people are still reluctant to ask for answers, and seek out the real facts in Houston’s drug laws. That’s where we come in. To help keep Houston safe out there, we’re providing the clear, real answers to some of your most common drug-related questions. Whether you’re wondering what’s on the Texas controlled substance list or don’t know if possession of Xanax is legal, keep reading for the facts you need to know before going out this weekend.

“Is marijuana legal in Harris County?”

Following April’s change in policy, many people are confused about whether or not marijuana is legal in Harris County. Technically, the answer is still no. However, minor possession is now largely decriminalized thanks to District Attorney Kim Ogg. Under Ogg’s new Marijuana Misdemeanor Diversion Program, anyone caught with four ounces or less of marijuana is given the opportunity to attend a drug education course in exchange for their possession charges being dropped (a pretty good deal if you ask us).

That said, depending on the specifics of your situation, the new program might not apply to you. First, your charge has to be a misdemeanor. While steps have been taken to decriminalize marijuana in Houston, some circumstances can still make possession of this controlled substance a serious offense. If you possess, wax or any other THC concentrates, you will not qualify for the program, same goes if your stash is bagged in a way that suggests intent to distribute. Similarly, the program does not extend to people on probation, parole or deferred adjudication. Second, using marijuana in public and/or driving while stoned can still get you arrested. While we see some common sense reasons to legalize drugs like marijuana, it is still illegal in Harris County.

“Can I get arrested for having prescription drugs like Xanax?”

Unless you have a legal prescription for a controlled substance, you can and will be arrested for possessing them—you may even face jail time. It all boils down to which prescription drug classification group your drug is in. If your police encounter involves something like “poss cs pg 3 28g”, it’s time to call a lawyer immediately.

In Houston, Xanax is in “Penalty Group 3” along with other common prescription drugs, including Hydrocodone, Adderall, Valium and Klonopin. For drugs in Penalty Group 3, possession of 28 grams or less is a 3rd Degree Felony, with punishments ranging from 2-10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. On the high end, possession of 400 grams or more of a drug like Xanax in Houston is a 1st Degree felony, which can land you serious jail time (5-99 years) and will cost you a lot of money (up to a $10,000 fine).

While getting caught with a Penalty Group 3 drug is no walk in the park, it’s certainly better than being caught with drugs in Penalty Group 1. Notably, the common prescription painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone fall into Penalty Group 1 alongside heroin, meth and cocaine. Being convicted for possession of a controlled substance in Texas that falls in Penalty Group 1 comes with harsher punishments even at the lower levels—a minimum $10,000-$100,000 fine and even jail time.

“Is synthetic weed still legal in Texas?”

Although at Thiessen Law Firm we’re all about common sense drug policies, our view is skewed when it comes to so-called “synthetic marijuana.” Considering the dangers of synthetic weed, we’re glad that lawmakers have taken a more aggressive stance. Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are now illegal in Houston, falling under Penalty Class 2-A. Though it may be a misdemeanor, possession of synthetic marijuana can get you arrested, fined and placed on probation following a conviction. For the sake of your own health and future, don’t be in possession of this controlled substance.

Charged with possession in Houston? Contact Thiessen Law Firm today.

Navigating drug laws in Texas can be incredibly complex. If you’ve been arrested and charged with possession or any other drug-related offense, you need the quality defense of a leading Houston drug crime attorney on your side. Super Lawyer Mark Thiessen and the team at Thiessen Law Firm understand the scientific and legal intricacies involved in drug cases and can put their skills to good use on your case. Don’t let your case sit a second longer—contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.