Texas Laws Regarding Illegal Drugs Essay

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Texas Laws Regarding Illegal Drugs

Criminal Justice

Kimberley Burton

Vice, Drugs and the Law

Dr. Lance Hignite

Texas Laws Regarding Illegal Drugs

The history of the United States policy towards drugs in general is a two-dimensional frame, the first being supply reduction, the reduction and control of the supply of drugs through legislation, law enforcement, interdiction, sentencing, and incarceration, and the second being demand reduction, the reduction of the demand for drugs. Demand reduction is operationalized through education, prevention and treatment (Jensen & Gerber, 1996).

The war on drugs has largely been waged in the south-western border region of the United States. Five federal border districts including California South, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas West, and Texas South alone are responsible for roughly one quarter of federal narcotics prosecutions annually. Narcotics cases make up roughly 30% of the federal criminal caseload each year, and the number of Hispanic and noncitizen defendants prosecuted in U.S. federal courts has risen steadily over the past two decades. In 1991, noncitizens comprised about 23% of persons prosecuted in federal courts; by 2009, nearly 45% of those prosecuted were noncitizens (Hartley & Armendariz, 2011).

Texas is a state known to have one of the strictest laws in regards to the possession of illegal drugs and narcotic substances. They have dire consequences against those caught in possession of, or caught using these banned substances. The punishments include probation, fines, temporary loss of the driver's license at the initial level and jail time when it comes to extreme cases (Anderson, 2005).

The punishment and action also depends on various factors like the quantity or weight of drugs that the person is found to be in possession of, how the drug was concealed or stored, what kind of drug it is and how long this has been going on (repeat offenses). The specifics are considered and the results are then measured in order to determine the way the situation will be handled. Most of the violations of this kind are mentioned under the Texas Penal Code. The Texas Controlled Substances Act as well as the Health and Safety Code also deal with the issues of illegal drug possession (Drug Possession Laws, 2011).

There are different forms of punishment depending on the kind of drug found in someone's possession. Drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine may have a minimum penalty of two years imprisonment along with a fine of about $10,000 but in circumstances where the case is more serious and the amount is substantial, this can lead to extreme circumstances of life sentences for amounts exceeding 400 grams of the drug. Drugs like Ecstasy, PCP, and Mescaline can carry fines up to $50,000 or a life sentence. These drugs are treated as Penalty Group 2 under Texas drug laws. On the other hand, Valium, Ritalin and other prescription drugs come in the Penalty Group 3 category and have more serious consequences for lower amounts of possession like 200 grams and are highly fined (Provine, 2007). Category 4 consists of compounds that contain Dionine, Motofen, Buprenorphine or Pryovalerone. Marijuana is its own classification and is defined in the health code as any Cannabis sativa plant. The laws make no differentiation as to whether it is growing or not, the seeds of the plant and any preparation of the plant such as a joint or a package containing dried and shredded buds is illegal under the law (Texas Penal Code, n.d.).

Just like with simple possession laws in Texas, the punishments for the manufacture or delivery of drugs differ according to the weight or amount of the drug that is in question. These are the punishments for the weights in the five penalty groups:

"Less than one gram -- 180 days to 2 years in a stat jail and a fine up to $10,000

1 gram or more but less than 4 grams -- 2 to 20 years in a state prison and a fine up to $10,000

4 grams or more, but less than 200 grams -- 5 to 99 years in a state prison and a fine up to $10,000

200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams -- 10 to 99 years in a state prison and a fine up to $100,000

400 grams or more 15 to 99 years and a fine up to $250,000" (Texas Penal Code, n.d.).

The Texas Code…[continue]

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