A 19-year-old Texas man could be facing life in prison for baking pot brownies. Officials in Round Rock, Texas charged Jacob Lavoro with a first-degree felony Thursday for making and selling the illegal baked-goods.
“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,” said Lavoro’s attorney, Jack Holmes.
Lavoro was charged so harshly because of a quirk in Texas law. Since he used hash oil as an ingredient police were also able to weigh the other ingredients used and add that to the total weight of the drugs. That means the weight of the eggs, cocoa and butter were all factored into the charges against him according to KFOR-TV.
“They’ve weighed baked goods in this case. It ought to be a misdemeanor,” Holmes said.
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The young man’s father, Joe Lavoro, agrees.
“If he did something wrong, he should be punished but to the extent that makes sense. This is illogical. I’m really upset and I’m frightened. I’m frightened for my son,” he said.
The total weight of the brownies came to over a pound. If Lavoro is convicted of the first-degree felony he could serve five years to life in prison.
Jamie Spencer is legal counsel for the marijuana decriminalization advocacy group, Texas NORML. He said the punishment in no way fits the crime.
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"That's 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,” he said.
Hash oil is derived from the flowers of the marijuana plant. It contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the ingredient in the drug that causes euphoria. Under Texas law possession of the oil is treated much more harshly than possession of marijuana.
“Possession of the smallest amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Possession of the tiniest amount of hash even a gram is a state jail felony,” Spencer told KEYE-TV.
"This case is the perfect example of the insanity of Texas' drug laws,” he said. ”Especially when it comes to marijuana or anything where the active ingredient is THC.”
Court records indicate Lavoro has a clean criminal record. Prosecutors have not yet confirmed that they plan to pursue the harsh charges.