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In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) schedules drugs with the potential to be diverted, abused, or addictive into five categories of controlled substances.
Strict laws exist within the Lone Star State for the possession of controlled substances and for the manufacturing or distribution of drugs. Penalties vary depending on the type of drug involved, the amount, possession of drug paraphernalia in addition to the drugs, how the drugs were concealed or stored, whether or not the drugs were being distributed or possessed, and any past convictions.
Penalties for drug possession (or distribution) in “drug-free” zones, like those around schools, are also stiffer than in other locations; punishments are typically doubled.
Within Texas, drugs are broken down into five “penalty groups” with penalties for Penalty Group One being the harshest. Common drugs and drug types listed by the Texas Health and Safety Code are outlined below.
* Registered and qualified members of the Native American Church with at least 25 percent Native American blood are exempt from penalties concerning peyote if the substance is used in religious ceremonies for religious purposes.
Some of these drugs are illegal substances while others are prescription medications; however, any possession or delivery of a controlled substance without a legitimate prescription incurs the penalties.
Levels of penalties and sentencing vary from jail time to fines (or both) and are broken down below.
The following are the charges and punishments for drug possession and manufacture or delivery in Texas, as published by Southern Methodist University(SMU):
Marijuana is classified separately in the state of Texas and carries the following penalties for possession and sale:
Delivery to a minor under the age of 17 who is enrolled in school is automatically a felony, and delivery to a minor over 0.25 ounces is a second-degree felony.
Being caught with drugs and drug paraphernalia (like a bong or crack pipe) or manufacturing or cultivating items (e.g., components for making meth or planting and harvesting marijuana) increases penalties. Driving while under the influence of drugs is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas for the first offense, punishable by a 72-hour confinement. If someone has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated, this penalty is increased to a Class A misdemeanor and carries a sentence of at least 30 days in lockup. A second offense is considered a third-degree felony.
Texas spends more money on prisons and jails than any other state in the US, the Texas Tribune publishes, and many of those incarcerated are there for nonviolent offences, such as drug possession. The Times Record News reports that Texas spends around $700 million annually on cases involving low-level marijuana possession, for example.
Texas is known for being tough on crime. Its prison system is meant to act as a deterrent, and in general, it is not there to rehabilitate inmates. Penalties for drug-related crimes are some of the harshest in the entire nation with the concept that if the punishment is strict, people will not do the crime for fear of the consequences.