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Is Synthetic Marijuana Illegal in Texas?

In my younger days, life was simple. If you wanted to look “cool,” then you smoked Marlboro Reds. If you wanted to get high, you smoked weed. Not so much the case anymore. Today, if you want to smoke, you smoke “E-Cigs” to avoid the unpleasant smoke and the nasty smell associated with cigarettes. If you want to get high, you smoke “K2” or “Spice” because you need to get a job and have to pass a drug test. In Texas, many people now use synthetic marijuana in an effort to achieve the same results that are commonly associated with natural marijuana while trying to avoid the primary consequence of natural marijuana…illegality. While many employers and drug tests may not account for synthetic marijuana, the Texas Legislature does. As of September 1, 2011, the substances of “K2,” “Spice,” and other synthetic chemical compounds that are cannabinoid receptor agonists and mimic the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids are illegal in Texas.

Synthetic Marijuana Products have been Added to Penalty Group 2-A of the Texas Controlled Substances Act

The main chemical used to produce synthetic marijuana is JWH-018, similar to THC. In fact, the moniker “synthetic marijuana” actually may be a misnomer as no psychopharmacological differences exist between this substance and natural marijuana. Therefore, on September 1, 2011, Senate Bill 331 became effective and added certain chemically made substances including synthetic marijuana, K2, and Spice to the Texas Controlled Substances Act. As a result, synthetic marijuana products are now illegal in Texas. The Texas Legislature added the chemically made substances used to produce synthetic marijuana to Texas Health and Safety Code 481.1031 Penalty Group 2-A. Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act contains substances that have a high potential for abuse, but are used for some medical purposes. Common examples of substances included in this group are magic mushrooms, mescaline, psilocin and psilocybin.

Penalties Associated with Synthetic Marijuana in Texas

According to Senate Bill 331, possession of synthetic marijuana or a chemically made substance that falls under Penalty Group 2-A of the Texas Controlled Substances Act can result in criminal charges varying from a Class B Misdemeanor all the way up to a 1st Degree Felony, depending on the amount of the synthetic substance.

As defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code:

  • A Class B Misdemeanor drug possession offense is punishable by a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000;
  • A Class A Misdemeanor drug possession offense is punishable by a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000;
  • A State Jail Felony drug possession offense is punishable by a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $10,000;
  • A 3rd Degree Felony drug possession offense is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000;
  • A 2nd Degree Felony drug possession offense is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and/or a fine up to $10,000;
  • A 1st Degree Felony drug possession offense is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.

One should be careful to note that, because synthetic marijuana is cheaper than natural marijuana, the packaging of synthetic marijuana and the quantity sold at one time generally tends to be higher than that of natural marijuana, which often times pushes an offense stemming from possession of synthetic marijuana into the felony range.

Defending Against Synthetic Marijuana Product Charges in Texas

Synthetic Marijuana is sold in many shops throughout Texas and has been legal to purchase and possess in the past. Unfortunately, most Texans do not know about the change in the State’s drug laws, and will now be charged with a criminal offense if they are caught with these types of substances in their possession. If you, a friend, family member, or loved one has been charged with a criminal offense stemming from synthetic marijuana in Texas, contact The Law Office of Mark O’Bryan at (972) 372-4054 to protect your legal rights and achieve the best possible outcome available to you.

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