Possession of a Controlled Substance in Texas

All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for illegal possession. Texas classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the illegal possession of CDS for personal use only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of Controlled Substances in Texas.

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Texas’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Texas Marijuana Laws.

How Texas Classifies CDS

Texas divides CDS into four “penalty groups” (and two sub-groups). Penalty Group 1 lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Groups 1-A, 2, 2-A, 3, and 4 decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.

If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the Texas Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (Tx. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481-102, 481.1021, 481.103, 481.1031, 481.104, & 481.105) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the six groups. (To find these statutes using the above link, choose the Health and Safety Code, then Chapter 481, then Art./Sec. 481.102.)

Group 2-A encompasses marijuana and its derivatives, and is not covered in this article.

Penalties for Possessing CDS

It is illegal in Texas to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation.

Penalty group 1

Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Tx. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481-115.)

  • Less than one gram—a fine of up to $10,000, at least 180 days in jail (and up to two years in prison), or both.
  • One gram or more, but less than four grams—a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.
  • Four grams or more, but less than 200 grams—a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams—a fine of up to $100,000, at least five (and up to 99) years in prison, or both
  • 400 grams or more—a fine of up to $100,000, at least ten (and up to 99) years in prison, or both

Penalty group 1-A

Penalty group 1-A encompasses only lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Penalties vary according to the number of “abuse units” (dosage units) possessed. (Tx. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481-1151.)

  • Fewer than 20 units— fine of up to $10,000, at least 180 days in jail (and up to two years in prison), or both.
  • 20 or more units, but fewer than 80 units—a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.
  • 80 or more units, but fewer than 4,000 units—a fine of up to $10,000, at least five (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.
  • 4,000 or more units—a fine of up to $250,000, at least 15 (and up to 99) years in prison, or both.

Penalty group 2

Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Tx. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481-116.)

  • Less than one gram—a fine of up to $10,000, at least 180 days in jail (and up to two years in prison), or both.
  • One gram or more, but less than four grams—a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.
  • Four grams or more, but less than 400 grams—a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.
  • 400 grams or more—a fine of up to $50,000, at least five (and up to 99) years in prison, or both.

Penalty group 3

Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Tx. Health & SafetyCode Ann. § 481-117.)

  • Less than 28 grams— a fine of up to $4,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams— a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams— a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.
  • 400 grams or more—a fine of up to $50,000, at least five (and up to 99) years in prison, or both.

Penalty group 4

Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Tx. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481-118.)

  • Less than 28 grams— a fine of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail or both.
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams— a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams— a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.
  • 400 grams or more—a fine of up to $50,000, at least five (and up to 99) years in prison, or both.

Anhydrous ammonia

It is illegal to possess or transport anhydrous ammonia in a container that is not designed or manufactured to hold or transport it; or to tamper with equipment made to hold or transport anhydrous ammonia. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to ten) years in prison, or both.

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

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