There are a lot of reasons why people in Texas might decide to grow marijuana. For many people, doing so may be the result of a serious medical condition. Cancer, epilepsy and even degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis may respond to marijuana when standard medicine fails to help. Others may use marijuana to treat side effects associated with medical treatments, like anxiety, wasting disease or insomnia related to chemotherapy.
Some people may be drawn to marijuana cultivation as a means to build up a large amount of liquid capital. Because of its status as an illegal plant, marijuana can bring in more money per ounce than any other crop. There is ongoing demand for both medical and recreational marijuana, which can inspire some to try their hand at cultivation. Unfortunately, under Texas law, those who grow marijuana face very steep penalties.
Texas treats all cultivation like possession
At first, it may seem like a stroke of good luck when you learn that the state of Texas doesn’t have separate penalties for cultivation. Instead, anyone caught operating a marijuana garden will face possession charges. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll get a slap on the wrist. In reality, even the smallest marijuana grow operation will probably result in felony charges.
Under Texas possession laws, possession of any amount of marijuana over four ounces is a felony. Unless the only things in your marijuana garden are recently sprouted seeds or fresh baby clones, even a single marijuana plant will probably result in a felony charge. After all, law enforcement are likely to weight the plants at the time of your arrest. The final weight could include the wet plant weight, which is much higher than the dry weight, as well as the weight of the roots and soil.
Mandatory minimums mean you’ll face serious jail time
A marijuana garden with plants that weigh over four ounces and as much as five pounds could result in felony charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail or up to two years in jail. There’s also a fine of $10,000 which applies to all but the largest weight category for possession.
It’s easy for a single pound to exceed that five pound limit, which could leave you facing charges related to possession of between five and 50 pounds. The penalties include a mandatory minimum jail sentence of two years, as well as that $10,000 fine. Many growers have a dozen or more plants at a time, which could easily exceed the 50 pound cutoff for this tier of penalties. For those whose gardens have a total weight of between 50 and 2,000 pounds, the maximum jail sentence increases to twenty years.
In the case of extremely large commercial growing operations with a weight of more than 2,000 pounds, the outcome could be anywhere from a minimum of five years in prison to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $50,000.