TX Teen Faces Potential Life Sentence for Hash Brownies

Texas teen Jacob Lovaro was caught with 1.5 pounds of baked hash brownies and cookies, plus a pound of marijuana and $1,645. in his apartment. He's facing a potential life sentence because the he used hash oil instead of pot. In Texas, the quantity of drugs used for sentencing purposes in cases involving hash oil includes the weight of the brownies, not just the hash oil.

The prosecutor in the case has issued this statement explaining why the penalty is so high. [More...]

If I take 1 gram of hash oil and mix it (dilute it) into 500 grams of brownie mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, etc., I now have 501 grams of a controlled substance. Not 1 gram, but 501 grams. I have taken a low-level felony and made it into a first degree felony.

...In Texas, if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court that someone manufactured, delivered or possessed with the intent to deliver hash oil – including any adulterants or dilutants – in an amount of more than 400 grams, then that person can face anywhere from 10 years to 99 years or life in prison or they may be eligible for a term of community supervision (probation) not to exceed ten years.

Since he's eligible for probation, there's no mandatory minimum sentence here, just an outrageous potential penalty. While hash oil contains a higher concentration of THC than marijuana, the difference isn't significant enough to warrant such disparate treatment. Jacob only used a few grams of hash oil to make his baked goods.

The DA is right about one thing:It's the legislature that makes the law.

Asking a prosecutor to use discretion is always hit and miss and can lead to disparate treatment. A legislative fix is what's needed. (In Colorado, if Jacob were 21, his hash brownies would have been legal.)

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    this is the kind of "logic" you get, (3.50 / 2) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed May 21, 2014 at 02:12:54 AM EST
    when you hire graduates of 3rd & 4th tier (essentially, a school found on the back of matchbook covers) law schools, who started out with a BA in underwater basketweaving.:

    "If I take 1 gram of hash oil and mix it (dilute it) into 500 grams of brownie mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, etc., I now have 501 grams of a controlled substance. Not 1 gram, but 501 grams. I have taken a low-level felony and made it into a first degree felony."

    hash oil is not 100% THC, but that's actually a minor issue. your average pot has maybe a 10% active (THC) concentration. using mr. DA's example, that "501" grams of product has a concentration of .002, or 2/100's of 1% (1/501) of THC in it. you have better odds of getting a buzz from smoking dried, crushed oak leaves, than from eating a brownie made of this batter. in fact, your body self-produces that level of THC.

    if this is what the DA is going with, I don't believe he even has a case, under TX law, which requires a minimum concentration of the active ingredient (THC), to be a prosecutable offense.

    this is the same "thought" process, which brought us such a huge disparity in sentencing, between crack-cocaine and regular crystal cocaine, claiming such a huge difference in concentrations, there was little actual science to support it.

    law enforcement hates them some scientists, because scientists have this annoying habit of bringing sciency-type stuff to the discussion, like evolution and such. this law enforcement stuff should be left to those, like police & DA's, who get gut feelings about things, life would be so much easier.

    find out who the nimrod was, in the legislature who came up with this law, and those who voted for it. publicize it, embarrass them in public, force them to explain their rationale.

    Hmmm... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jbindc on Wed May 21, 2014 at 07:18:49 AM EST
    the prosecutor in this case, Mark Brunner, graduated from SMU law school (#42), and besides being a prosecutor, also worked as a defense attorney for 7 years, so maybe it was in that venue that he realized how the law should be adjudicated (aside from whether you agree with the law or not).

    So your screed against him (and everyone who didn't go to Harvard or Yale or a "top tier school") seems a bit misplaced.


    Sad fact is, that the brighter the lawyer, (2.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Mr Natural on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:57:42 AM EST
    - the trickier and more convoluted the reasoning of which they are capable.  Woe unto he who is at the receiving end of such cleverness.

    If Education is not the Problem (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:46:38 AM EST
    It must be genetic.

    It's Texas. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by scribe on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:21:48 AM EST
    It's in the water.

    What water (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed May 21, 2014 at 06:12:16 PM EST
    I believe (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:54:10 AM EST
    The brownies not only contained has oil (which has a higher concentration of THC than pot), but they also contained pot as well. He also was in possession of pot aside from the brownies. (bold mine)

    ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) -- A 19-year-old Texas man accused of making and selling brownies laced with marijuana and hash oil faces a felony charge that carries a punishment of anywhere from five years to life in prison.

    According to Round Rock police, officers found 1.5 pounds of brownies, along with a pound of marijuana, digital scales, $1,675 in cash and dozens of baggies with marijuana and hash oil at Jacob Lavoro's apartment last month. Police were responding to a complaint about marijuana use.


    McDonald noted that possessing 4 grams of hash oil is enough for a first-degree felony charge. According to an affidavit filed with the court, Jacob Lavoro had 145 grams of hash oil, in addition to the brownies.

    Hash oil is a controlled substance that carries much harsher state penalties than marijuana. The oil has higher concentrations of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. It's in a penalty group with amphetamines and ecstasy.

    I am a voter, but not in Tx (none / 0) (#1)
    by ZtoA on Wed May 21, 2014 at 12:05:21 AM EST
    What is the deal with hash brownies? if advertised as such then that is OK. I have used flower essences and alcohol in stealth ways as potentially difficult dinners without 100% disclosing my ingredient sources. but that as a home cook and I like to know the products I buy. He seems to have been completely honest about them.

    The teen's father, Joe Lavoro, called the possibility of his son spending life behind bars for a hash brownie recipe "outrageous.""Five years to life? I'm sorry, I'm a law abiding citizen. I'm a conservative. I love my country. I'm a Vietnam veteran, but I'll be damned," Lavoro said. "This is illogical. I'm really upset, and I'm frightened, I'm frightened for my son."

    Imagine a purveyor of fois gras or liquor or truffles or wild caught meats facing the same incredibly insame punishments.

    As to the examples of (none / 0) (#9)
    by scribe on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:19:31 AM EST
    foie gras, liquor or "wild-caught meats", they all have some level of regulation.

    California's ban on foie gras, enacted on "cruelty" grounds over the protests of chefs, restauraneurs and people who like to eat it, was recently upheld.  I'll defer to someone with specific knowledge of Cali law, but I'll bet their ban has criminal penalties.

    Making and selling liquor, or just making too much for yourself, brings the revenooers and legal problems.

    As to wild-caught meats, most (if not all) states and the feds have laws prohibiting the sale of wild game meats.  This is not the game meats one sees for sale in specialty butcher shops, which comes from farm-raised game animals.  Rather, the sale of meat from wild animals is what's prohibited and has been for many years.  It was intended to end "market hunting", which involved killing as much game as possible and selling it as a business and resulted in most game being almost wiped out.  A couple years back, a guy in Maine got a federal felony conviction and 6 months in the pen for catching and selling wild, sea-run Atlantic salmon (listed on the threatened/endangered species list in Maine).

    But, Texas is Texas.  While it has no monopoly on stupid laws and thuggish law enforcers, at least this prosecutor is laying some of the blame for this absurd charge where it lies - on the legislature.  Of course, there's no reason the prosecutor had to select this particular charge.  He has a whole armamentarium to choose from but nonetheless chose this one.  So he gets some of the blame, too.


    California Foie Gras (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by squeaky on Wed May 21, 2014 at 11:06:28 AM EST
    You can get it internet mail order from out of state, but it is not allowed to be sold by purveyors in CA.

    The law was targeted to shut down Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras Owned and operated by Guillermo Gonzalez and his family, CA's only foie gras farm.


    Illegal and restrictions and regulations (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by ZtoA on Thu May 22, 2014 at 12:56:00 AM EST
    are not the same thing as long terms of incarceration.

    I am not a hater of regulations (none / 0) (#16)
    by ZtoA on Thu May 22, 2014 at 12:48:50 AM EST
    like some are. My point was that pot brownies are not that different from some other relaxing and pleasurable substances that can be used socially. I am very much in favor of restricting meats that are endangered. Pot is not endangered. A nice ice cream with a lovely chocolate sauce with a sprinkle of pot brownies at the end of a meal would be a very nice seque into an after dinner discussion and then a nice sleep. Also I am not for selling wild killed meats, but I have a friend who hunts and kills one elk a year and then gifts his friends his home made sausage. It's not selling.

    This reminds me of the bad old days... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:49:52 AM EST
    ...when cops would include the weight of the dirt in the flowerpot where your plant was growing when charging you.  2 pounds of dirt plus a one ounce seedling = a 2 pound bust.

    That was the bad old days, right?

    And LSD... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:03:20 AM EST
    where the blotter paper countys towards the weight...a particularly insane aspect to this insane game.

    LEOs have always inflated (none / 0) (#7)
    by ragebot on Wed May 21, 2014 at 09:25:30 AM EST
    I can remember reading headlines where the value of the drugs was suppose to thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars but the amounts were fractions of ounces.

    Of course that was not as bad as finding out the pot was really oregano and having to charge the perp with distribution of a condiment.

    And they could seize your Hatteras (none / 0) (#13)
    by fishcamp on Wed May 21, 2014 at 11:32:06 AM EST
    if they found one roach or seed if they boarded you while fishing.

    Unless you are in Minn (none / 0) (#14)
    by ragebot on Wed May 21, 2014 at 02:29:15 PM EST
    according to


    but they could probably do an end around and bring in the feds.