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Understanding Drug Scheduling And Penalties Under Texas Law

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Understanding Drug Scheduling And Penalties Under Texas Law


Drug possession in Texas is a serious offense. No matter what controlled substance is involved, a person can face criminal charges, jail time, and heavy fines. Penalties vary depending on what drug the person had, and how much was in their possession. People will often wonder what they can be charged with for certain types of narcotics, and for that we need to understand drug classifications in Texas. 

Schedule I Drugs. According to the Texas Board of Pharmacy, these are drugs with a high abuse risk. Schedule I drugs have no safe and accepted medical use in the United States. These include heroin, marijuana, LSD, PCP, or crack cocaine. Some people may be surprised to see marijuana on this list, but both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the State of Texas view it as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

Schedule II Drugs. These are drugs with a high risk for abuse, but also have accepted medical uses in the United States and can be administered safely. However, these drugs can cause psychological or physical dependence if used improperly. Schedule II drugs include certain stimulant and depressant drugs. For example: morphine, cocaine, oxycodone, methylphenidate (also known under the brand name Ritalin), and dextroamphetamine. 

Schedule III, IV, or V drugs. These have a potential for abuse but somewhat less than for Schedule II drugs. Drugs under these schedules also have safe and acceptable medical uses in the United States. Schedule III, IV, or V drugs may include anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants, and non-narcotic analgesics. Some examples include Tylenol with Codeine (Tylenol #3), Valium, and Xanax (alprazolam).

What are the Legal Penalties for Different Scheduled Drugs in Texas?

Based on where a drug falls within its scheduling classification – and its potential harm – each substance falls within a “Penalty Group” under Texas Law.

Penalty Group 1 includes drugs that can be harmful and deadly to users, and are frequently involved in criminal drug trafficking enterprises. Examples include:

  • Opioids
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • LSD

Possession of these drugs involves felony charges and up to 99 years in prison, based on the weight and amount of drugs involved. Longer sentences are usually associated with drug trafficking, not mere possession of recreational amounts of a drug.

Penalty Group 2 includes drugs that can be dangerous, but less so than the Penalty Group 1 substances. Examples include:

  • Psychedelic mushrooms
  • Ecstasy
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP

Felony charges are associated with these drugs as well, along with the potential for prison terms and heavy fines up to $10,000.

Penalty Group 3 includes substances such as anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, Valium, and Ritalin. These drugs can modify the body’s chemistry, or have depressive or stimulant effects. But they are not as dangerous as other drugs nor as clearly associated with trafficking and street crime. Possession of small amounts usually only involves a misdemeanor charge, but can escalate to a felony in larger amounts.

Penalty Group 4 involves a wide range of controlled, prescription substances that can be involved with abuse and dependence. As with Penalty Group 3, these can start out as misdemeanor possession crimes but escalate to felonies depending on the weight found in a person’s possession.

Marijuana, meanwhile, has its own classification under the Penalty Group criteria. Marijuana possession is typically charged as a misdemeanor, unless the person has a large amount in their possession, or intends to distribute the product. It is important to remember that while other states have relaxed standards with marijuana, Texas still takes marijuana possession seriously and it is a crime in this state.

Our Pearland, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Understand Your Legal Rights in any Type of Drug Possession Case

If you have been charged with possession of any type of controlled substance under Texas law, you must know your legal rights involved and how the drug is classified in Texas. Never plead to a drug possession charge until you’ve had an opportunity to speak with a proven Texas criminal defense attorney. At Keith B. French Law, our Pearland criminal lawyers understand the classifications of various controlled substances and the approaches prosecutors will take toward these offenses. To build your defense, contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today or call 832-243-6153 for a case evaluation.


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