In Texas, possession of a dangerous drug is a bit of a misnomer. Aren’t all drugs considered dangerous? Exactly what drugs fall under the “dangerous” category? This article explores the various drug categories in Texas, as well as the possession of a dangerous drug offense. If you’ve been charged with having a dangerous drug, it is important to know what you’re up against, as well as your available defenses.

Classification of Substances

In Texas, drugs are categorized into five different penalty groups. Penalty group one consists of the more “hardcore” drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. These drugs serve no medicinal purpose and are the most heavily controlled. Penalty group 2 comprises of hallucinogenics, including LSD and ecstasy. Penalty groups 3 and 4 include opiates and opiods not listed in penalty group 1, and a range of prescription drugs that have a potential for abuse.

What is a “Dangerous Drug” in Texas?

The Texas Health and Safety Code Section 483.001 defines “dangerous drug” as a device or a drug that is unsafe for self-medication and is not included in penalty groups 1 through 4 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. In other words, a dangerous drug is a drug that must be prescribed by a doctor. This includes drugs such as hydrocodone, Xanax, Valium, and others.

According to the Texas Health and Safety Code, all dangerous drugs must bear the following inscription:

  1. “Caution: federal law prohibits dispensing without a prescription,” or “Rx only,” or any other legend that complies with federal law.
  2. “Caution: federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.”

It is important to note that marijuana is excepted from this definition. Marijuana is a unique substance that is treated differently in Texas.

Penalties for Possession of a Dangerous Drug

If you possess a dangerous drug without a prescription you will be arrested and charged. In Texas, possession of a dangerous drug is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine. If you are found with a large quantity of the dangerous drug, you could face felony charges.

But, it’s not just possession that can get you in trouble. If you are caught distributing, taking part in prescription forgery, or illegal manufacturing, you will be charged with a felony. One of the obvious exceptions to this is if you are a licensed pharmacist operating with a prescription from a medical provider.

Additionally, any conviction for possession of a dangerous drug can lead to a six-month driver’s license suspension. You may also be required to take a Drug Awareness class.

Defenses to Possession of a Dangerous Drug

One of the most apparent defenses to a dangerous drug charge is having a valid prescription. Moreover, in order to be charged with possession of a dangerous drug, police must be able to show that the drugs were in your possession. If, for example, you are present in a car where prescription pills are found, police must show that those pills belonged to you.

A drug charge can be scary, no matter the circumstances. If you’ve been arrested for possession of a dangerous drug, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws and nuances of this offense. Call my office today to schedule a free consultation.   

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