The National TOP 100 Trial Lawyers
America's Top 100 - Criminal Defense Attorneys
Avvo Reviews
Avvo Ratting 10.0 Top Attorney
Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2018
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

What is Considered a Controlled Substance in Texas

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

Texas loves it’s prisons… and for good reason. The Texas private for-profit prison system is among the largest in the world while also generating billions in profits for the companies who operate them. The state’s strict drug laws insure a steady flow of customers, er prisoners, to fill the pipeline (and pockets) of the state’s billion-dollar private prison enterprise.

Thanks to it’s strict drug laws, Texas law enforcement can easily arrest thousands and thousands of citizens for even the most minor drug offense. The high volume of drug arrests overwhelm the state drug court system which, in turn, ram through convictions of non-violent drug defendants at an alarming rate. While dozens of other states move to legalize or decriminalize many formerly illegal substances including marijuana, Texas refuses to budge.

Contrary to popular belief, stricter drug laws and imprisonment does not reduce crime or make communities safer. In fact, it often has the opposite effect, making communities less safe and dangerous. But these facts haven’t swayed Texas lawmakers to dial back their decades old “war on drugs”.

The legacy of these draconian drug laws remains strong in Texas. If you or a loved one has been arrested for possessing a controlled substance in Texas, you’ve got plenty of company. It’s not uncommon for those facing charges to confuse the laws around what is and what isn’t considered a controlled substance in Texas.

Texas was one of many conservative states swept up in the hysteria surrounding the Reagan-era “war on drugs”. In the late 1980’s, the Reagan administration (followed by the Bush administration) passed The Federal Controlled Substances Act. Texas lawmakers jumped in and passed the Texas Controlled Substances Act of 1989 to classify drugs into different groups or categories based on their potential for abuse. The term “controlled substances” refers to any drug (both legal and illegal) that needs regulation from the government.

Continue reading to answer the question: What is considered a controlled substance? What should you do if you find yourself facing charges in a Texas drug court? We’ll also discuss the importance of hiring a lawyer in your defense if you get arrested with a controlled substance.

Drug Schedules for Controlled Substances

Along with the Federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 came five categories based on the potential for drug abuse. The more addictive drugs are in Schedule I, while the less addictive drugs are in Schedule V.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, and they don’t have any medical uses. Medical professionals may not administer or prescribe these products. This includes drugs like heroin, marijuana, and MDMA (ecstasy).

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs also pose a high risk for abuse, but they also have a high risk of causing either physical or psychological dependency.

They are doctor-accepted medications for pain management and mental health situations, making them legal to obtain with a prescription. For pain management, a doctor might give you prescribed drugs like morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, methadone, fentanyl, or oxycodone.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have a smaller risk of abuse, but they still carry that risk. Pain killers with narcotics are on this list, along with anabolic steroids and ketamine. Hydrocodone with acetaminophen and codeine with acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen are Schedule III drugs.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for abuse, and they are available as prescription medications. This list includes propoxyphene, clonazepam, diazepam, sibutramine, and phenobarbital.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs have the smallest potential for drug abuse. Cough suppressants like Robitussin are often available over-the-counter, while Phenergan with codeine is more likely to be a prescription medicine.

Texas Penalty Groups for Controlled Substances

In Texas, controlled substances get divided into four groups. These groups depict what the potential punishment is for each type of drug offense.

Penalty Group 1

The first penalty group, according to Texas law, includes narcotics that are most likely to cause drug abuse. This group includes cocaine, methamphetamines, opium (and opium derivatives), and hallucinogens. There is a subcategory for LSD called Penalty Group 1A that has the same penalties as Penalty Group 1.

The penalty for possessing these drugs depends on how much you have on you when you get arrested. Less than 400 grams means that you might go to jail for two years and pay a $10,000 fine. More than 400 grams means a fine of up to $250,000 and a life sentence.

Penalty Group 2

Penalty group 2 includes marijuana/cannabis, PCP, and MDMA.

The penalty for possessing these items differs on how much you have in your possession when you get arrested. If you have less than one gram, you might face up to two years in jail. If you have more than 400 grams, you might have to pay a $50,000 fine while facing a life sentence.

Penalty Group 3

The third penalty group includes opiates (not included in Penalty Group 1), benzodiazepines, sedatives, and other prescription drugs with higher abuse risks. The punishment for possessing these drugs consists of a minimum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. If you possessed more than 200 grams, you may spend up to 20 years in jail and pay a $10,000 fine.

Penalty Group 4

Penalty group 4 includes unlisted opiates and chemical compounds, including narcotic ingredients. The penalties for this group are the same as those listed in Penalty Group 3.

Defenses Against Drug Charges in Texas

The possession of a controlled substance is an automatic felony in Texas if convicted. There are, however, a few situations that you might be in that can help you get the charges dropped.

An affirmative defense for a possession charge is to prove that the items weren’t intended for distribution to humans for medicinal or recreational consumption.

How is this possible? Under Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, certain drugs may have approval for new drug applications in which investigational use was granted to the possessor. If you can prove that you have a use for this drug under this exemption, you may get the charges dropped.

You may have been arrested for possessing a drug that you didn’t know was illegal. The law requires that you know that you have an illicit drug with the intent to sell or distribute it to another. This means you have to prove that you were ignorant of this fact before it can help you get your charges dropped.

These drug cases can be confusing to navigate. A controlled substance lawyer can help you to create a solid defense for your case and may even help you get these charges dropped.

What Is Considered a Controlled Substance in Texas?

So, what is considered a controlled substance? Now that you know the answer to this question, you know that these drug charges come with very serious penalties in Texas. If you got arrested for possession of a controlled substance, don’t fight the Texas drug courts alone. The for-profit prisons are all too ready to accept another resident.

You need an experienced Texas drug lawyer who knows the system and the skills to defend your freedom.

Montgomery drug attorney Andrea M. Kolski has over 20 years experience winning in Texas drug courts. As a former prosecutor, she knows both sides of the bench better than anyone and her track record of success is second to none. Don’t become another sad statistic in the Texas “war on drugs”- call our office today for a free, confidential case review.

Visit Us

By Appointment Only - Contact Us

The Woodlands Office
8505 Technology Forest Pl #104

The Woodlands, TX 77381

Phone: 832-381-3430

Get in Touch

Free Consultation 832-381-3430

What Our Customers Say

"Andrea is a fantastic attorney versed in many fields. I've retained her services for criminal defense, nondisclosure orders, and family law. She has always provided a...

Steven Street Texas

"Andrea and her staff are definitely one of the greatest of all time. Their professionalism and knowledge of the law and how the system works is unparalleled. I have her...

Dwight Osteen Texas

“Andrea is the most amazing attorney I have ever had in my corner.” — Vincent, client facing 2nd DWI charge, CASE DISMISSED