How Does Texas Define Unlawful Controlled Substances?

The Texas Health & Safety Code lists all of the substances that Texas has declared to be controlled substances. Texas basically divides controlled substances into six different penalty groups: 1, 1A, 2, 2A, 3 and 4. There are all sorts of different drugs listed under those penalty groups and they all carry different penalties depending on the amount of the drug.

The reason Texas divides drugs into different penalty groups has to do with the way the federal government classifies drugs. Back in the 1970s, the federal government passed the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which divided drugs into five different “schedules”. The federal government placed different drugs in different schedules based on what they thought was the addictive quality of the drug and whether or not the drug had any sort of medicinal value. Federal schedule I drugs were defined as highly addictive with no medical value. Schedule II drugs were defined as highly addictive but with some medical value. The further down in the federal schedule, the less addictive and the more likely the federal government believed a drug had medical value.

Texas modeled its drug classification system off of the federal system. But instead of using schedules, they used “penalty groups.” The drugs in Penalty Group 1 are considered the most addictive drugs with no acceptable medical use, whereas the drugs in Penalty Group 4 are widely prescribed, not very addictive, and have a lot of medical use. Drugs in Penalty Groups 2 and 3 are in between.

There is a lot of controversy over whether or not certain drugs should be in different penalty groups. But as a practical matter, if you’re charged with possession of a particular drug, it doesn’t really matter. If you’ve been charged, then you’re going to have to live with the penalty range for the associated penalty group. You can’t argue in a criminal case that the drug you’ve been charged with actually is less addictive or has more medicinal value than the government thinks it does. The penalty range is simply going to depend on the penalty group of the drug and the amount you’re charged with possessing.

So what drugs are in the different penalty groups?

Penalty Group 1 includes the hardest types of drugs such as heroin, morphine, opium, cocaine, meth, and ketamine. These are all very hard drugs that you can’t get a prescription for and that tend to have no medically accepted use.

Penalty Group 1A is a very small penalty group that includes some hallucinogens, the most notable being LSD.

Penalty Group 2 includes other hallucinogenic drugs such as ecstasy (also called MDMA), PCP, hallucinogenic mushrooms (also called psilocybin), and mescaline.

Penalty Group 2A is an interesting group because it’s composed almost entirely of different strands of synthetic marijuana such as Kush and K2/Spice. As manufacturers come up with different chemical compounds to market as synthetic marijuana, the government has to add more and more compounds into Penalty Group 2A.

Penalty Group 3 is where you start to see prescription drugs such as Xanax, Valium, and Ritalin.

Penalty Group 4 is a very small penalty group, with the most recognizable drug being codeine.

You’ll notice that marijuana is not in any of the penalty groups. That’s because it has its own separate law with its own separate penalty range.

Texas law also has a category of drugs, separate from the penalty groups, that it calls “dangerous drugs.” “Dangerous drugs” is a catchall category for any drug you need a prescription for but isn’t listed in the penalty groups. Despite the name, most “dangerous drugs” aren’t that dangerous. For example, you can be charged with possession of a dangerous drug for possessing something as harmless as prescription-strength ibuprofen if you don’t have a prescription for it.

For more information on Unlawful Controlled Substances In Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 936-4521 today.

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