Drug War

Texas Hash Brownie Baker No Longer Faces a 10-Year Mandatory Minimum



Prosecutors in Williamson County, Texas, have decided to reduce the charges against Jacob Lavoro, the 19-year-old who faced 10 years to life in prison after police caught him with a pound and a half of hash brownies and cookies last April. Instead of a first-degree felony carrying a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, Lavoro is now charged with two lesser felonies related to his possession of hash oil and marijuana. The more serious of those charges is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, but The Austin American-Statesman reports that Lavoro could be eligible for probation. "The family and I are very grateful that common sense has prevailed," says Jack Holmes, Lavoro's lawyer, who until now has harshly criticized prosecutors for taking a relentlessly hard line in such a trivial vase.

The original charge against Lavoro was based on two aspects of Texas law that conspired to produce a penalty shocking enough to attract nationwide attention. Texas treats offenses involving cannabis concentrates, regardless of THC content, much more severely than offenses involving marijuana buds, and it counts "adulterants and dilutants" as part of a drug's weight. In Lavoro's case, as Williamson County First District Attorney Mark Brunner explained in May, that meant treating the baked goods as if they consisted entirely of hash oil, which put Lavoro well over the 400-gram cutoff for a first-degree felony.  "As prosecutors," Brunner said then, "we are bound by what the law is, not what the law should be or could be."

But after hanging the prospect of a decade or more in prison over Lavoro's head for a few months, Brunner has decided the law leaves him some wiggle room after all. According to the American-Statesman, "Brunner said it was just more straightforward to charge Lavoro on the [counts] that did not involve the brownies." KXAN, Austin's NBC station, quotes him as saying, "We don't want to get bogged down in the distractions." Yet it was Brunner who created those "distractions" to begin with by threatening Lavoro with an outlandishly long sentence for a crime that is considered a legitimate business in Colorado and Washington.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]

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  1. “The family and I are very grateful that common sense has prevailed”

    Well, I can understand the relief the guy and his family feels, but common sense has hardly prevailed. We are still talking about putting a guy in prison for 2-20 years over a fucking plant. We are still like only .0000001% more enlightened that we were in the dark ages. We’re barely anything more at this point than less hairy monkeys.

    1. I, for one, welcome our new less hairy monkey overlords.

  2. Whatever, the State got what it wanted… I’m sure all of his assets have been seized and auctioned off already, the proceeds split between the police department and DA’s office.

  3. OT: Iowahawk still funny.

    UK Warning: Look Out For People Doing Things

    London – British public safety officials today increased the national alert level to “Quite Elevated Indeed” — the highest category possible — and appealed to UK citizens to “keep a sharp lookout for diverse people engaged in activities.”

    1. What I think he meant to say by “diverse” was men of no appearance.

  4. “As prosecutors,” Brunner said then, “we are bound by what the law is, not what the law should be or could be.”

    So what’s this “prosecutorial discretion” I keep hearing about?

    1. Applicable to cops and prosecutors only, and maybe judges who cooperate.

  5. Yet it was Brunner who created those “distractions” to begin with by threatening Lavoro with an outlandishly long sentence for a crime that is considered a legitimate business in Colorado and Washington

    Federalism. It’s also legal for me to carry around a gun with eleventy billion rounds in the magazine. Something that’d get me thrown in the can in several other states.

    1. Something that’d get me thrown in the can in several other states.

      Including CO. Pot may be legal here, but we’re still pretty fucking far from being a libertarian fantasy land.

    2. I think it was more an appeal to common sense than a legal argument.

    1. 2. Don’t Stare. I’m a Person, Not Eye Candy.

      The most common reaction I get from others when I wear revealing clothing are stares. Some people will sort of roll their eyes or look disgusted; others will just stare as if I’m some kind of art exhibit at a museum. Either way, there are a lot of stares.

      Look, I understand that I’m challenging your views on fat womanhood and forcing you to question your beliefs and attitudes, but keep this contemplation to yourself. Yes, I do notice when you’re looking. Yes, it does make me feel uncomfortable.

      I’m not some sort of object to be admired; I’m a human being first and foremost. Respect my right to choose to be fabulous and move it along.

      ‘Mommy, why are that big woman’s boobs hanging out?’

      ‘Quiet honey. She’s just challenging our views on fat womanhood.’

      1. I’m not some sort of object to be admired


    2. It’s my hot body. I do what I want.

  6. And my gun purchases no longer face a mandatory minimum 10 days in jail.

  7. OT: Kevin D. Williamson:

    The cartoon version of conservative economic thinking ? that we should subsidize gazillionaires in order to create work opportunities for yacht painters, monocle polishers, and truffle graters

    Your orphans aren’t worked hard enough. I see yachts with bad paint jobs everyday. It pains me. As did my last insufficiently truffled meal.

    Whip them if you have to.

  8. Good cause that would really be stupid man.


  9. This sounds like some pretty serious business.


  10. If I had been this teen, I would’ve packed up while on bail before sentencing and I remember when this happened and he did have some time out on bail after the arrest, and would’ve scraped up enough funds for a bus ticket to Washington state. Even if it would’ve meant living in homeless shelters until I could do better, it certainly would’ve been better than getting railroaded in Texas and wasting my dad’s money on attorney fees trying to fight a backward judicial system because even if he does get released from a Texas prison in 2 yrs on some type of deal appeal and public outcry, there is no telling how many thousands will have been wasted on attorney fees trying to get released. We are only a few years away from nationwide legalization. Marijuana prohibition is in it’s last few years. Just some advice if this happens to anyone in a non-legal marijuana state and you can get bail, PACK UP and leave that state ASAP ! Get a bus ticket and move to a faraway state that has legalization and make sure there are many states between you and the state that you are leaving ! Wait it out living in a homeless shelter once you get there if need be, at least you will have your freedom and in a few years when legalization is nationwide, you will have your freedom because when nationwide legalization happens, all those in state prisons on marijuana charges will end up being released by national public outcry. 2020 will be at the latest when all states see national legalization.

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