Teen Faces Life Sentence Over Pot Brownies
Jacob Lavoro's use of hash oil is a big part of the problem
By Derek Andersen, Newser User
Posted May 20, 2014 6:11 AM CDT
Marijuana is sometimes ingested mixed into brownies and other dishes.   (Shutter Stock )

(Newser) – A Texas teen is facing five years to life in prison for allegedly making and selling pot brownies due to the particulars of the state's drug laws—and his recipe. Jacob Lavoro’s fateful mistake was allegedly adding hash oil to his batch. While possession of up to two ounces of pot is a misdemeanor in the state, possession of hash oil is a felony, and its inclusion in the brownies allowed the state to count the other ingredients in the baked goods, from the sugar to the butter, when calculating the weight of the illegal substance. The sentence is tied to a single batch weighing in at about a pound and a half—or 660 grams of hash oil, reports KEYE TV, though Toke of the Town reports Lavoro allegedly made the brownies using only a few grams. Lavoro, a former high school football player, has a clean record otherwise.

"I was outraged. I've been doing this 22 years as a lawyer and I've got 10 years as a police officer and I've never seen anything like this before," says his lawyer, who believes the offense should be treated as a misdemeanor. A lawyer for Texas NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, told KEYE TV in an earlier report that the sentence Lavoro is threatened with is "higher than the punishment range for sexual assault, higher than the punishment range for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It's kind of crazy." (Colorado is dealing with a hash oil problem of a different sort.)

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Kate Boccia
May 21, 2014 3:44 PM CDT
I agree with Arthur, we need to stop the ridiculous war on drugs and take a war on addiction attitude. We have too many people locked up in the hell hole we call prisons that are low lying offenders. Our country is financially ruined and we continue on this path of destroying our youth... check out what I've been fighting for.... www.KateBocciaPresents.com
Mark Linder
May 21, 2014 7:48 AM CDT
As a former Texan once sang: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing ain't worth nothing, but it's free."
Chris Vail
May 21, 2014 1:59 AM CDT
Very simply, this means merely that he has been charged with a felony. ALL felonies in Texas carry the possibility of 5-99 years. There are 3 classes of felony--A, B & C, and a special class called Capital Murder. Everything Aggravated is a Class A felony; Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Aggravated Criminal Trespass. The news article does not mention the exact charge, but Aggravated Assault is most probable. Section 22 of the Texas Penal Code reads (in part): intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person. A reckless act is one that is committed, not necessarily with intent to harm another, but without regard for the outcome. Does anyone DISAGREE that this behavior is reckless? So yes, a person can be charged with a Class A felony because s/he added hash oil to a serving of brownies. If one leaves a poisonous snake so that another person will be bit is probably also guilty of this crime. There are as many possible variants of this crime as there are variants in human behavior. Invariably, this case will be plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor, after he is certified as an adult. If he is 17, this is a done-deal. Age 15 or 16 varies a lot, but this kid has no prior arrests. Age 14 and under will be treated in Juvenile Court, under the Texas Family Code and not the Penal Code. He will go to the Walls Unit (all prisoners do) where he will be treated as a convicted felon. Since he has no previous record, he may get '90 days shock probation'. Which means that he will be back on the street after 3 months being treated as a felon. Its not fun. He will carry the criminal record for the rest of his life. The misdemeanor assault or possession charge can get him up to 5 years in Prison. However, the chances of him staying there the whole 5 years are small. He will have to reform his behavior when he is in prison. If he gets his GED, attends in-prison drug counseling, and is otherwise a model inmate, he will be out within 24 months, with 5-20 months being the most common. He will have to pay fees and fines and meet with his Parole Officer every week in the beginning. He will have to find work and otherwise show himself reformed. While on parole, he will be subject to urine or blood tests for controlled substances. If he tests positive, there is a very good chance that he will be returned to the Walls unit to complete his sentence. The taxpayers pay about $25,000 per year for every inmate, so they do not want these guys in prison any more than the prisoners want to be there. That's why there are plea bargains, probation and parole. This is a non-story. We Texans are friendly, but as a Texas taxpayer, I cordially invite you to commit your crimes in some other jurisdiction.