Marijuana

Punishment for Hash Brownie Baker Drops From 10 Years in Prison to Seven Years of Probation

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Fox 7

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Jacob Lavoro, the Texas teenager who originally faced a sentence of 10 years to life after he was caught with a pound and a half of hash-infused cookies and brownies, will get seven years of probation under a plea deal with the Williamson County District Attorney's Office. The dramatic penalty reduction became possible after prosecutors dropped a first-degree felony charge that treated Lavoro's baked goods as if they consisted entirely of hash oil. Instead he pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony, possession of four to 400 grams of hash oil.

Probation is what you would expect for a first-time offender charged with a low-level, nonviolent crime, which raises the question of why prosecutors dangled a long prison term over Lavoro's head for months after his arrest last April. That threat attracted nationwide attention, driven by dismay at the insanely harsh way that Texas law treats offenses involving marijuana concentrates. Williamson County First District Attorney Mark Brunner at first implied that he had no choice, only to discover some leeway as the criticism mounted (much like Jim McClain, the New Jersey prosecutor in the Shaneen Allen case). It probably also helped Lavoro that what counts as a felony in Texas is now a legitimate occupation in Colorado and Washington.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]

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  1. Thank goodness “Shaneen” wasn’t mentioned until the end; I wouldn’t have been able to understand the article otherwise.

  2. It probably also helped Lavoro that what counts as a felony in Texas is now a legitimate occupation in Colorado and Washington.

    Maybe, maybe not. Prostitution is a legitimate occupation in much of Nevada, but you still see police in other states cracking down hard on it.

    1. That’s because it’s been a legitimate occup’n in Nevada for a long time. If things stayed the way they are re pot (very unlikely), people would after maybe a decade settle into the pattern of treating it harshly everywhere else again.

  3. which raises the question of why prosecutors dangled a long prison term over Lavoro’s head for months after his arrest last April

    It’s a negotiation. You ask for ten years in prison, and you hope to get seven years probation.

  4. Williamson County First District Attorney Mark Brunner at first implied that he had no choice

    When I grew up, “I was only following orders” was a phrase almost exclusively connected to Nazi atrocities. Now it’s a way of life for American bureaucrats.

    1. It also wasn’t an excuse.

      1. It was an excuse until they no longer had the last word in violence, as it will continue to be an excuse for our ruling class until they are put down. Then it will be the excuse for the ruling class that replaces them.

        1. Then it will be the excuse for the ruling class that replaces them.

          I’ve often wondered about that exact point. Is there any chance the cycle won’t start again? Is there ever going to be hope that people will learn, and continue to be vigilant and violent towards government forever?

          1. I’ve often wondered about that exact point. Is there any chance the cycle won’t start again?

            Nah. I think all anyone can hope for is that you get in and thrive during the right point on the curve.

            1. Yeah, exactly. We’re on a liberty downturn and it sucks, but you get the right part of the cycle and it could be boom times.

              1. I dunno. I’m kind of a “revolutionary times” guy.

                1. I dunno. I’m kind of a “revolutionary times” guy.

                  I was too. Now I have a family.

          2. Is there any chance the cycle won’t start again?

            That’s the story of human history. Free men create wealth, men who employ organized violence steal that wealth in the name of the king or the people or some other nonsense, and then everything collapses when the host (society) can no longer sustain the parasite (government).

            Is there ever going to be hope that people will learn, and continue to be vigilant and violent towards government forever?

            Individuals are no match for organized violence. Unless they organize. And then you’ve got competition between men engaging in organized violence, like we see right now in the Middle East. Eventually someone will win and declare themselves to be government.

            Unless human nature changes (and it won’t), that’s the cycle of history.

            Life’s a bitch. Then you die.

        2. When the current ruling class is put against the wall, the perpetrators won’t need orders.

  5. But he’s obviously such a danger to society.

    Sullum just wants people to be curled up in their hotel beds like Maureen Dowd.

  6. It probably also helped Lavoro that what counts as a felony in Texas is now a legitimate occupation in Colorado and Washington.

    Being a douchbag?

    1. Unfortunately, being a politician or “public servant” (you say douchebag, same thing) is a legal and legitimate occupation everywhere.

      1. It’s legal, I’ll give you that much.

  7. Is it against the NAP to buy 1000 pounds of cheap Mexican weed and just burn it all next to a courthouse?

    I’d like to show the uptight prosecutors a good time, is all.

    1. They’re not going to have that good of a time on cheap Mexican ditchweed. A better idea would be the Lemon Kush I just got.

      1. So, serial question, Episiarch. What ID were you required to show to make your purchase? I heard from one source that they only had to show their id to a disinterested security guard on the way in, but had to show no ID when actually making the purchase. Is that true?

        1. I don’t buy from the dispensaries, dude, they are way overpriced because of the tax. I know one person who did but I don’t think he had to show any ID (he is clearly, clearly over 21).

          I might hit a dispensary to see if they have any of the harder to get strains that I’d like to see, but I don’t have high hopes for that.

          1. (he is clearly, clearly over 21).

            As am I. I’m just concerned because as long as its illegal at the federal level, I don’t want my purchase entering any database anywhere, ever.

            1. I’m pretty sure they do not record your ID info like they would for buying pseudephedrine (rolls eyes). But if you’re concerned, just buy from a dealer like the days of old and save on the taxes too. Like I do!

              1. Yep, and since it’s legal to possess, it’s the dealer that needs to look over his shoulder.

    2. Is it against the NAP to buy 1000 pounds of cheap Mexican weed and just burn it all next to a courthouse?

      Whelp, down in Federal Way (south of Seattle) a pot grow went up in flames and the smoke went towards a school.

      Depending on your position on marijuana, we just corrupted the entire student body, or they got free healthcare. I’ll let you decide.

      Oh, the people who ran the grow say it was completely legal.. the State of Washington takes a different view.

      1. the State of Washington takes a different view.

        Is there a position on freedom they don’t do that with?

        1. I’m still thinking…

  8. I don’t know if it’s true, but I was watching Trailer Park Boys, and they mentioned that Canada treats hash oil essentially the same as heroin.

    1. Both are treated as a manufactured controlled substance. Hash is manufactured from cannabis and heroin is manufactured from opium.

    2. I’d bet it’s true. People are often confused and believe that Canada takes a lighter approach in their drug laws than we do.

      They may in the realm of sentence length and whatnot. But from my understanding, pretty much everything that’s illegal here is just as illegal there.

      I remember listening to a call-in show a few years ago on NPR and some American called in with some theory about how you could grow marijuana in Canada… the Canadian guy on the show was perplexed by the caller’s line of thinking and said, “Yeah, no you can’t”. The caller demanded to know “why not” and the Canadian dude said, slowly , that Marijuana was illegal in Canada.

      1. Drugs. . .are. . .bad. . .mmmkay?

    3. This has been playing on the radio’s up here non-stop since the statement was released:

      Canada’s current system of cannabis control fails to prevent or reduce harms associated with its use, Dr. Jurgen Rehm, director of social and epidemiological research at CAMH, said Thursday as the hospital released a new policy document on the drug.

      But then they went total statist, of course…

      “Cannabis sales should be regulated,” Rehm said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

      “There should be a government monopoly on sales. There should be a minimum age for purchase and consumption. There should be controls on availability. There should be ? a ban on marketing, advertising and promotion and plain packaging.”

      By the way, CAMH stands for Canadian Public Health Association

      1. By the way, CAMH stands for Canter for Addiction and Mental Health

        1. *Center

  9. …District Attorney Mark Brunner at first implied that he had no choice, only to discover some leeway as the criticism mounted

    Somebody told him about prosecutorial discretion?

  10. We’d all be better off if the police focused on crimes that have actual victims!

    Does anyone honestly believe that wasting $20 Billion and arresting 3/4 Million Americans annually for choosing a substance Scientifically proven to be safer than what the govt allows, is a sound policy?

    1. Does anyone honestly believe that wasting $20 Billion and arresting 3/4 Million Americans annually for choosing a substance Scientifically proven to be safer than what the govt allows, is a sound policy?

      Does anyone honestly believe you are fucking Cleopatra?

  11. I practice criminal defense in Williamson County and know the prosecutors well. This case was NEVER about pot brownies. It was about hash oil, which Mr. Lavoro was selling. Possession of hash oil in the quantities Mr. Lavoro possessed it is a second degree felony (2 to 20 years) and the sale of it raises it one level to a first degree felony (5 to 99 or life). Of course the drug laws are stupid, but the state never intended to send this kid to prison for life. What Mr. Brunner meant by having no choice was concerning the original charge, which was, in simple legal fact, a first degree felony. The discretion part comes later, when crafting a plea bargain or deciding how to try the case, and they exercised that, as they had intended all along.

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