Drug offenses have long been a common reason that people can find themselves in trouble with the law. However, in recent years the city of Houston and the state of Texas have been taking steps to criminalize the possession of synthetic drugs as well.
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals contained in products with such brand names as Kush, K2, and Spice. Packages of these products could often be legally sold as incense. Synthetic marijuana was legal because it did not contain the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis, but the health consequences prompted legislators to take action. People can now face huge fines and even possible imprisonment for possessing or selling these products.
Houston Synthetic Drugs Lawyer
If you have been arrested for the possession or sale of a synthetic drug such as Kush, K2, or Spice, you should contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Matt Horak has been defending people all over the Houston area against various drug crimes for more than a decade.
Horak Law represents in communities throughout Waller County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Galveston County, Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Brazoria County. Call our firm today at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to set up a free, confidential consultation that will let us review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.
Harris County Synthetic Drugs Overview
- What kind of charges can a person face for these offenses?
- What kinds of punishments can a person face if convicted?
- How is the Houston ordinance different from the state law?
Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.1031, synthetic chemical compounds that are cannabinoid receptor agonists and mimic the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids are classified in Penalty Group 2-A. Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.1161, a person who knowingly possesses one of these substances may face the following charges, depending on the amount of the synthetic drug:
- Two Ounces or Less — Class B misdemeanor
- Four Ounces or Less But More Than Two Ounces — Class A misdemeanor
- Five Pounds or Less But More Than Four Ounces — State jail felony
- 50 Pounds or Less But More Than 5 pounds — Third-degree felony
- 2,000 Pounds or Less But More Than 50 pounds — Second-degree felony
- More Than 2,000 Pounds — Mandatory minimum Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison sentence of five years
Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.113, a person who knowingly manufactures, delivers, or possesses with intent to deliver one of these substances may face the following charges, depending on the amount of the synthetic drug:
- Less Than One Gram — State jail felony
- One Gram or More But Less Than Four Grams — Second-degree felony
- Four Grams or More But Less Than 400 Grams — First-degree felony
- 400 Grams or More — Mandatory minimum Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison sentence of 10 years
A person convicted of any of the above sentences can face extremely harsh consequences. The possible punishments vary by the classification of the charge:
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Possession of More Than 2,000 Pounds or Manufacture or Delivery of 400 Grams or More — Up to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
While Texas state law prohibits very specific cannabinoids, the law has made some cases difficult to prosecute. In response to these loopholes, the Houston City Council amended Chapter 28 of the Code of Ordinances to add Article XVII that much more broadly makes all illicit synthetic drugs illegal. Under § 28-571, an illicit synthetic drug is defined as:
- Any vegetative material, or herbal or plant material, however constituted, designed, intended, marketed, manufactured, or engineered, that contains any quantity of a synthetic chemical or synthetic chemical compound that has no legitimate relation to the advertised use of the product.
- Any vegetative material, or herbal or plant material, with packaging or labeling that indicates, suggests, or implies that the substance is a substitute for or otherwise mimics the pharmacological effects of marihuana (’marijuana’), a controlled substance, or a controlled substance analogue as defined by section 481.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
- Any vegetative material, or herbal or plant material, offered for sale or sold with verbal or written representations regarding the purpose, methods, use, or effect of the substance that indicates, suggests, or implies that the substance mimics the pharmacological effects of marihuana (’marijuana’), a controlled substance, or a controlled substance analogue as defined by section 481.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
This law makes it illegal for any person to possess, provide, sell, barter, produce, manufacture, distribute, or to offer, display, market or advertise for sale, or purchase with the intent to provide, sell, barter, produce, manufacture, or distribute, or to offer, display, market or advertise for sale any illicit synthetic drug. Any violation is a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by a fine of up to $2,000, but it is extremely important to understand that each separate package, container, or other separate unit containing an illicit synthetic drug shall is considered a separate and distinct offense.
Find a Synthetic Drugs Lawyer in Houston
If you have been charged with possession, manufacture, or delivery of Spice, K2, Kush, or some other synthetic drug, you will want to seek legal representation. Horak Law helps clients in the greater Houston area, including The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Spring, Richmond-Rosenberg, Pearland, Pasadena, Missouri City, League City, Galveston, and Conroe.
Matt Horak is an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who will fight to help you obtain the most favorable outcome to your case that involves the fewest possible penalties. You can call him locally at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to schedule a free legal consultation that will let our firm review your case.