A 19-year-old Texas man is facing the possibility of a life sentence in prison for baking and selling brownies laced with marijuana and hash oil.
Supporters have rallied to the cause of Jacob Lavoro — creating a Facebook page demanding justice for him, as well as starting a petition on Change.org demanding the charges against him be reduced.
Lavoro was arrested in April after his neighbor called police and said that she smelled marijuana. Round Rock police officers found $1,600, a pound of marijuana, 1.5 pounds of brownies, 145 grams of hash oil, and digital scales when they entered Lavoro’s apartment.
When police determined how to charge Lavoro, they included the total weight of the entire pan of brownies, arguing that the hash oil had permeated the entire thing. The state considers hash oil — which contains a much higher concentration of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — to be a controlled substance akin to methamphetamine and ecstasy.
At the time of his initial arrest, Williamson County prosecutor Travis McDonald told the Associated Press that possessing 4 grams of hash oil was enough to warrant a felony possession charge in Texas, and Lavoro had 145 grams in his apartment.
Moreover, he said that the police could include the entire weight of the pan of brownies, saying “if you dissolve cocaine into a can of Coke, technically you could charge him with the weight of the Coke.”
Still, many are concerned that the police included the weight of the flour, sugar, water, eggs, butter, salt, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder in order to determine the weight of the hash oil first-time offender Lavoro used in baking the brownies.
Tristan Tucker, Deputy Director of Dallas-Fort Worth National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), toldThe Daily Chronic that “this is a prime example of how our criminal justice tax dollars are going to waste — rather using our law enforcement officers to fight real crime, we’re using them to keep brownies off the streets.”
Watch a report on the case via WFMY News below.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.