Attention parents and juveniles: Teenage vaping in Texas is illegal.
It doesn’t matter if it’s nicotine or THC, it’s against the law for a juvenile to vape or smoke an e-cigarette in the Lone Star State. And that’s not all.
Effective Sept. 1, 2023, public school students found in possession of a vape pen or e-cigarette on campus or at a school-sponsored event will now end up in alternative school. Texas legislators passed a law this year – House Bill 114 – which requires a mandatory placement in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) for vaping.
In this article, Board Certified Juvenile Lawyer Lisa Herrick explains teenage vaping laws in Texas, including the crimes and possible punishment, as well as the collateral consequences of possessing a vape or e-cig on campus.
If your child has been caught with a vape in North Texas, it’s extremely important to contact a seasoned attorney who specializes in juvenile cases. Lisa can help. She is a foremost expert on Texas juvenile law and has a wealth of experience representing minors accused of vaping or drug offenses.
Vaping THC In Texas
In Texas, it is a felony to vape THC in Texas, regardless of your age or the amount. Under Texas Health and Safety Code 481.103, tetrahydrocannabinol from sources other than the marijuana plant, are classified as a Penalty 2 Group Substance and any amount is a felony. Here’s the breakdown of the potential punishment for a THC conviction in Texas:
- Less than one gram: state jail felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- 1 – 4 grams: third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- 4 – 400 grams: second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- 400 grams or more: first-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine.
As you can see, the punishment for a conviction for possession of THC is extremely serious. Fortunately, if the teen is under the age of 17, they will likely be prosecuted as a juvenile, where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than severe punishment. Possible punishment options for teen vaping THC include drug counseling, a juvenile diversion program, juvenile probation, placement in a residential or treatment facility, or commitment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).
If your child has been accused of vaping THC in North Texas, contact Board Certified Juvenile Attorney Lisa Herrick. She specializes in juvenile cases and has represented hundreds of teenagers accused of violating the law in Texas, ranging from misdemeanors to very serious felonies.
Vaping Nicotine In Texas
Most people know vaping THC is illegal in Texas, but what about tobacco? In Texas, it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, use, or accept a cigarette, e-cigarette, or tobacco product in Texas.
The legal age for tobacco used to be 18, but in 2019, Texas lawmakers cracked down in response to the rise of e-cigarettes among teens. They raised the minimum age to purchase or use tobacco to 21 years old – unless the person is at least 18 years old and on active duty in the military.
According to Section 161.252 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, youth under age 21 who use or possess tobacco face a fine of up to $100. Violators may also be required to perform community service and attend a tobacco awareness class.
It’s important to point out that this law also criminalizes chewing tobacco, cigars, and any other product that contains tobacco – not just vapes or e-cigs.
Alternative School for Teenage Vaping in Texas
With the new school year underway, many school districts are sending out emails, videos, and text messages advising parents and students about a new law aimed at cracking down on teenage vaping at school.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2023, any public school student found in possession of, using, selling, giving, or delivering e-cigarettes on school grounds or at school-related events must be temporarily placed in the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP). The new law stemmed from House Bill 114, which passed in the 88th Legislative Session and mandated that any student caught with an e-cigarette within 300 feet of any school property, regardless of whether they contain THC or not, to be temporarily placed in alternative schooling.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) leaves the length of the punishment up to districts, but in essence, an e-cigarette now carries the same penalty as bringing alcohol or drugs to school.
For example, Fort Worth ISD leaders recently sent an email to families explaining the possible consequences of a student found in possession of an E Cig/Vape pen. A first-time offender with a device (with no THC) faces a one-day intervention at the district’s On Campus Intervention program. A repeat offender possessing an E Cig/Vape pen (3+ devices) with THC faces a disciplinary period of 20 days at the Metro Opportunity School.
It’s important to point out that all districts have their own policies. To find out the punishment in your district, contact your school administration or review the Student Code of Conduct
Collateral Consequences of Teenage Vaping in Texas
In addition to the criminal and educational repercussions associated with teenage vaping in Texas, there are also collateral consequences that can follow a teen throughout their life if convicted of a juvenile offense. These could include loss of college scholarships, difficulty finding employment, and even a record that could potentially prevent them from being able to obtain financial aid or housing in the future.
That’s why it is extremely important to contact an experienced attorney who specializes in juvenile cases if your child has been accused of vaping THC or possessing drugs.
Board Certified Juvenile Lawyer Lisa Herrick understands that youth make mistakes and are deserving of second chances. She will work tirelessly to get your child back on the right track without negatively impacting their future or their record.
If your child is facing a drug charge (unfortunately not just nicotine), call 817-203-2220 to schedule a consultation with Lisa, a highly-regarded Texas expert in juvenile law. She is one of only two Board Certified Juvenile Attorneys in Tarrant County.