How You Can Get Life for Hash Brownies in Texas



To understand why hash brownies could send a Texas teenager to prison for the rest of his life, you need to understand how one kind of drug-war idiocy compounds another. Texas law treats possession and distribution of cannabis concentrates much more severely than possession and distribution of marijuana buds, and the difference in penalties is greater than the difference in THC levels. Worse, the legally cognizable weight of "hash oil" includes "any adulterants or dilutants." In a statement issued today, Williamson County prosecutor Mark Brunner explains what that means in the context of cannabis-infused baked goods:

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.

Hence the potential life sentence for 19-year-old Jacob Lavoro, who was arrested in April after police found one-and-a-half pounds of hash brownies and cookies, plus additional marijuana and hash oil, in his apartment. It all makes complete nonsense now. 

Back in 1993, I considered the utterly irrational consequences of pretending drugs weigh more than they do. The practice of including carrier weight when charging people with distribution of LSD can be especially devastating, and it played a role in the life sentence received by Timothy Tyler.

[Thanks to Steve Gibson for the tip.]