The way prescription drugs are being handled in Texas is changing thanks to COVID-19. There have been many recent updates to the way drugs are being prescribed, but that doesn’t change what can happen if you violate laws pertaining to prescriptions.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes and what penalties you may face if you’re caught violating prescription drug laws in Texas.
The Changes to Laws Surrounding Texan’s Prescriptions
In March of 2020, the DEA removed restrictions on prescription drugs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under these changes, it became legal to prescribe controlled substances on telemedicine visits without any in-person visits.
Prior to this, in most cases, a controlled substance could not be prescribed over the internet unless there is an emergency. COVID-19 counts as a public health emergency and so the rules were altered to reflect that and make it easier for patients who need prescriptions.
As long as the public health emergency exists, controlled substances can be prescribed when certain conditions are met. The practitioner must be acting in accordance with both Federal and state laws at all times.
It must also be a prescription that a practitioner would prescribe in normal circumstances and the visit over the internet includes visual and audio interactive communication.
Under the changes, doctors can also refill prescriptions over the internet for chronic pain.
Texas Classifies Drugs into Four Categories
The laws surrounding prescriptions may have changed in light of COVID, but the way the state prosecutes drug crimes has not. Texas divides drugs into categories.
In general, the more powerful the drug, the stiffer the penalty for violating the laws surrounding its control. The drugs categories in Texas are:
- Stimulants – These include drugs such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, and similar drugs. This encompasses prescription drugs such as Dexedrine, Ritalin, and Adderall.
- Narcotics – This category includes opioids such as prescription pain medications as well as fentanyl and heroin.
- Hallucinogens – You can find LSD, PCP, marijuana, ketamine, peyote, and other similar drugs in this category.
- Depressants – This is a large category, as it encompasses everything from benzodiazepines and barbiturates to alcohol and even opioids.
Based on these categories of drugs, Texas assigns specific offenses and penalties.
Texas Drug Offenses
The details of the offense matter as much as the drugs involved when it comes to being charged with a drug crime in Texas. These are the most common drug crimes:
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Possession is defined in Texas as the control, management, care, or custody of a substance. You can be charged with this even if you’re not using it by simply having the drug on your person or having control over it, such as putting it somewhere in your home or car.
The penalty for possession depends on the drugs you are caught with but can range from one year in prison and fines up to $4,000 all the way to life in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Delivery of a Controlled Substance
If someone gives controlled substances to another person or party, then that person or party can be charged with drug trafficking or the delivery of a controlled substance.
Manufacturer of a Controlled Substance
This is a charge that can face serious penalties as it relates to the production of controlled substances such as cooking methamphetamine.
Prescription drugs, even prescribed legally, can get you into trouble with the law. So make sure you’re doing things by the books.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.