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Drug categories in Texas: how people are sentenced

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Most people who are arrested for drug crimes in Texas are charged with state law violations instead of federal law. However, federal law also prohibits manufacturing, possessing and selling controlled substances; state and federal law sometimes overlap. Whether state or federal court prosecutes the crime depends on several factors. However, the focus of this article is Texas law.

Texas state law bans the manufacturing, possessing and selling of controlled substances and separates drugs into four groups.

Penalty Group #1

Texas law deems these drug crimes the most serious, and the punishment for manufacturing, possessing and selling these drugs is very harsh. This category includes:

  • Opioids
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms
  • Peyote
  • Opiates
  • LSD
  • Salts, isomers

Penalty Group #2

Drugs in this category include:

  • Hallucinogens not in penalty group #1, such as ecstasy and PCP
  • Synthetic marijuana
  • K2
  • Spice

Penalty Group #3

Drugs in this category include prescription drugs, for example:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Stimulants
  • Depressants
  • Benzodiazepines

Penalty Group #4

This category exists for other prescription drugs not listed above and any of its compounds.

Marijuana in Texas

Texas treats marijuana differently and punishes its possession, manufacture and sale with lighter sentences than any other substance, contrary to federal law.

Why are these categories important?

The court system uses these categories when sentencing to determine the punishment for a convicted individual. Each group has a minimum and a maximum amount of time that a convicted individual must serve in state prison. While the judge has discretion over the time a convicted person must serve, it must fall within the range prescribed by Texas law.

Understanding drug laws in Texas is important because it helps people understand how the state determines sentencing guidelines, which is based on the categories above and the judge’s discretion.