Because he baked a batch of brownies and cookies using hash oil instead of plain ol’ marijuana, Texas officials want to send 19-year-old Round Rock, Texas resident Jacob Lavoro to prison for anywhere from five years to life.
In the state of Texas, hashish is a class one felony, thereby allowing police to weigh all the baked goods (nine bags of brownies and six bags of cookies), the ingredients and the containers in which the baked goods were stored. The total weight came to a whopping 1.45 pounds. When police entered Lavoro’s apartment, they also found 16 ounces of marijuana and $1,675 cash. The total hash oil used amounted to approximately seven grams. He reportedly sold each brownie for $25 out of his Colonial Village apartment.
Lavoro was arrested April 15 and released May 7 on a $30,000 bond. Police were so enthused over the pound and a half of “THC,” which is what Lavoro is so far charged with from the weight of the baked goods, no additional charges have been filed over the pound of weed.
Update: On Aug. 26, the first-degree felony charge was dismissed. Lavoro still faces second-degree felony charges for possession of both THC and marijuana. The maximum penalty is 20 years in jail, not life.
“The police were called to the scene because a resident of the apartment complex called, claiming they could smell marijuana,” Jack Holmes, Lavoro’s attorney, tells Celebstoner. “When they knocked on the door, the two officers took up position on either side of the door for safety, a normal police operating procedure. While Jacob went upstairs to his balcony to try to discern who was at the door, his girlfriend Kaci (Marie Hill) asked who was there through the door. The police identified themselves not as police officers but rather replied ‘maintenance,' so she opened the door. Claiming they could smell marijuana, the two officers proceeded to enter the apartment, without a warrant or any exigent circumstances, meaning they did not see any sign of anyone attempting to get rid of evidence which would have given them legal cause to enter the premises without a warrant. What they should have done was secure the apartment and called for backup and a warrant.”
Holmes says he expects to get the case tossed out on the strength of it being an illegal entry and search by the police. Lavoro is due back in court June 19 for arraignment, when he'll enter a not-guilty plea. Holmes doesn't expect Lavoro to do any time, much less the five to 99-year sentence prosecutors are trumpeting. “The cops could end up extracting the THC from the 16 ounces of marijuana," Holmes notes, "but because they’d get so little out of it, I don’t expect they will go that route." He adds that Williamson County, just north of Austin, where Round Rock is located, “is a crazy country.”
According to NORML: "If the amount of hashish or concentrates is more than four grams but less than 400 grams, the offense is considered a felony of the first degree punishable by a term of imprisonment no less than five years and no greater than 99 years, and a fine no greater than $10,000."
Keep in mind Texas is the same state where 16-year-old Ethan Couch killed four people in 2013 in a horrific drunk-driving accident, but was sentenced to rehabilitation despite being three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit when the crash occurred in Burleson last June. Couch had stolen the beer he drank before the accident, and also was found to have Valium in his system. Family members of the victims contend the February decision was influenced by Couch's family's deep pockets (which includes paying for the rehab).
Yet Lavoro faces a possible life sentence for brownies that contain hash rather than marijuana, reminding of the crack/cocaine disparities in sentencing guidelines. Lavoro's not rich, nor does he have wealthy parents. He's currently working towards his GED while living in the apartment.
"This young man obviously did more than just 'try' it, but five years to life in prison?" former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson posted at Facebook. "Too many of our young people are being saddled with criminal records for behaviors in which their parents - not to mention prosecutors and law enforcement officers - very likely engaged."