A Texas teenager is facing five years to life in prison for allegedly baking and selling pot brownies.
Jacob Lavoro, a 19-year-old from Round Rock, Texas, was charged with a first degree felony because he used hash oil instead of marijuana, allowing the state to weigh the brownies as a whole — including the sugar, cocoa, butter and other ingredients — to calculate the weight of the drugs.
Police searched Lavoro's apartment, where they allegedly found 660 grams — or 1.45 pounds — of baked goods (six bags of cookies, nine bags of brownies) along with 16 ounces of marijuana and $1,675 in cash.
"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,” Jack Holmes, Lavoro’s attorney, told KEYE-TV. “They’ve weighed baked goods in this case. It ought to be a misdemeanor."
Hash oil, classified as a "Penalty 2" controlled substance under Texas law, contains a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
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."
Lavoro was arrested on April 15 and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of the illegal hash oil and sale of the hash-infused cookies and brownies. He was held in Williamson County Jail and released on May 7 on a $30,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 19.
“It’s crazy," Joe Lavoro said. "I don’t understand it."
Neither do pot advocates, who say the possible punishment doesn't fit the crime.
"That's higher than the punishment range for sexual assault, higher than the punishment range for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon," Jamie Spencer, legal counsel for NORML's Texas chapter, said. "It's kind of crazy."
"This case is the perfect example of the insanity of Texas' drug laws," Spencer added. "Especially when it comes to marijuana or anything where the active ingredient is THC."