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How is the possession of psychedelic drugs in Texas charged?

Due to increased media exposure and expanded medical research, the attitudes regarding psychedelics have changed in recent years. Some states have passed laws decriminalizing or even legalizing some psychedelics. But despite changing attitudes nationwide, the possession of all psychedelics is still illegal in Texas. 

The most popular psychedelics are magic mushrooms (aka psilocybin mushrooms), LSD and MDMA or Ecstasy. Other less common psychedelics include DMT (dimethyltryptamine, which is the active ingredient in ayahuasca) and mescaline. The possession of any of these substances is a felony in Texas, even for small amounts. In the Houston area, by far the most arrests relating to the possession of psychedelic substances relate to the possession of MDMA. However, arrests for the possession of magic mushroom and LSD are not uncommon. Arrests for possession of DMT or mescaline are somewhat rare. 

In Texas, controlled substances are placed into one of seven “penalty groups.” Penalty groups punish the possession of different substances based on the amount or “abuse unit” (as in the case of LSD, which is discussed below). The placement of controlled substances into penalty groups is fairly arbitrary and punishes the possession of certain substances more harshly than others for no apparent reason. 

Other than LSD, most substances that are considered to be psychedelic are contained in Penalty Group 2, which is found in Texas Health and Safety Code 481.103. Penalty Group 2 contains psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), MDMA, mescaline and DMT (along with multiple other obscure psychoactive compounds). 

Under Texas Health Code 481.116, possession of substances in Penalty Group 2 is subject to the following potential sentences, based on weight (including any adulterants or dilutants):

-Less than one gram: State jail felony punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

-1-4 grams: Third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

-4-400 grams: Second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

-400 grams or more: A potential prison sentence of 5-99 years and a fine of up to $50,000. 

The grouping of these substances into one sentencing range based on weight is arbitrary when considering the relative potency and dosage amount of these substances. For example, the possession of four grams of magic mushrooms is a second-degree felony despite the fact that four grams of magic mushrooms would only be one large dose. On the other hand, 4 grams of pure MDMA could be around 40 doses. The net effect of this is that the possession of magic mushrooms is punished more harshly than other psychedelics due to their relatively lower potency by weight. 

LSD is in a different category due to the fact that it is an extremely potent substance by weight (a sugar packet amount of LSD contains approximately 10,000 doses). As such, unlike most other psychedelics, LSD is not punished based on weight, but by “abuse unit.” Under Texas Health and Safety Code 481.002(50), an “abuse unit” is defined as a single unit, or a .25” of blotter paper, or 40 micrograms of the LSD in liquid suspension. The possession of “abuse units” of LSD is punished as follows:

-19 or fewer abuse units: State jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in State Jail.

– 20 to 79 abuse units: Third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison.

-80 to 3999 abuse units: Second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison.

-4000 to 7999 abuse units: First-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in prison. 

-8000 or more units: Enhances first-degree felony punishable by 15-99 years.

If the legalization of marijuana is any indication, Texas will likely be one of the last States to adopt changes to its sentencing scheme regarding the possession of psychedelic substances. If you are caught with any amount of any psychedelic in Texas, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced drug possession attorney right away. If you are charged with possession of a psychedelic drug or any controlled substance, call Ceja Law Firm today.