Texas Teen Faces Five To Life For Selling Pot Brownies

brownies21n-3-webI recently discussed the impact of federal drug sentencing laws on the federal judiciary and correctional systems at the Seventh Circuit Conference in Chicago. A Texas case this week shows how such cases also inundate the state systems, including cases involving only marijuana. While marijuana possession and sale has been legalizes in Colorado and Washington, Texas continues to take a hardline approach to such cases. Jacob Lavoro is looking at a possible sentence of life in prison after being caught with 1.5 pounds of brownies and 1 pound of marijuana as well as $1,675 in cash.

He was released on a high bond of $30,000.

Even five years in this case is excessive in my view for pot brownies, particularly for a first offender. The case could have been charged as a misdemeanor as an act of prosecutorial discretion. However, Williamson County prosecutor Travis McDonald says that he just has to accept a plea deal.

250px-Chocolatebrownie220px-Unrolled_jointThe ridiculous range for selling pot brownies is often used by prosecutors to force people like Lavoro to give up his right to trial and accept a plea. Any plea. That is now the reality in both the state and federal systems where defendants cannot risk going to trial — a level of coercion increased by prosecutors who openly count stack by bringing multiple and often redundant charges to lengthen potential sentences. I have spoken with prosecutors who admit that, if a defendant does not do what they want in a plea, they intentionally run up the charges as a lesson to others.

The laws are written to guarantee years in jail for relatively minor possession cases. For example, Lavoro was also found with 145 grams of hash oil. However, just 4 grams of hash oil is enough for a first-degree felony charge. Hash oil is treated in the same sentencing category as amphetamines and ecstasy.

However, it gets worse. Under state law, by mixing the hash oil with the brownies, Lavoro can be charged with manufacturing and distribution of 1.5 pounds of that category of controlled substances. In other words, you can just charge the weight of the brownies as if it were pure narcotics.

38 thoughts on “Texas Teen Faces Five To Life For Selling Pot Brownies”

  1. The difficulties of the rule of law that are becoming increasingly emergent precede every form of written historical record that has ever come to my attention. No person now living has the slightest trace of actual responsibility for the “defects” in the notion of the rule of law being socially better than the rule of truthful decency.

    I had recognized before 1988 that the work of my professional vocation was taking me, step by inevitable step, toward making an effort to blow the whistle on the core aspect of child abuse that is made mandatory by conventional, traditional social norms.

    One day, on my way through Omaha, Nebraska, I stopped at the Omaha FBI office and informed them of my work, and was largely ignored, much as i had expected would happen.

    On another day, I informed police in Madison, Wisconsin, while doing library research at UW-Madison, of my having observed child abuse happening in Madison. They asked me to identify the abuser. I said that I observed abuse occurring with every child I had noticed in Madison, and that the abuse was the result of aspects of the structure of human society.

    Our so-called justice system is formed on the basis of a deep and pervasive functional psychosis that has been a core aspect of human society for thousands upon thousands of years.

    What has allowed me to begin to grasp the enormity of human child abuse, generation after generation in the human historical record is having, however it happened, to have been and become so profoundly autistic as to be able to be sufficiently immune to deception as to have lived my inner most life outside all the social norms that require deception in order to exist.

    I find that my bioengineering research appears to me to have unriddled the essence of human destructiveness, all the way to its seeming cosmological origins.

    So, if the universe is in any way a place where love of self and others has any useful place, then I shall presume that love will prevail over hatred.

    When is not in my ken, nor does it matter to me, for it will happen, if it happens, when its happening becomes achievable.

  2. I am sick and tired of seeing our justice system treat drugs this way. Five years to life makes a mockery of the law and brings the entire legal system into disrepute.

  3. Mr. Schulte,

    So, I ask yet again (as does Prof. Turley’s post), how do pot brownies, or the marijuana itself justify life imprisonment?

    It’s the subject of this discussion, yet you avoid it as if you simply have no rational arguments on the subject . . . .

    Oh. I get it. Nevermind.

    Have a nice day.

    1. fiver – there is a bottom and a top to the possible sentence. It would appear, without jumping to too many conclusions, that judicial discretion is involved in the sentencing. He might get probation and be prevented from using an oven for the next 10 years, like they do with computer hackers.

  4. In case no one who reads the Turley blog has figured this out yet, perhaps I may usefully state my consciously intended purpose in my participation with the Turley blog.

    I am engaged in a methodology of “whistle-blowing.” Whistle-blowers are the anathamatic bane of the socially powerful, as their activities are commonly the focus of whistle-blowers’ work.

    After decades of studying traumatic (physiologically brain-damaging) aspects of social-norm-based socialization of infants and toddlers, I have become incapable of eluding the finding that the commonplace social-development transition from infancy to early childhood, of typically 18 months of age, is of overwhelmingly catastrophic, optimal-brain-function-shattering physical and moral abuse, albeit mandated by social traditions that are held as beyond sacred because of the way they destroy human conscious awareness of human decisions in the process of being made.

    I arrived on this planet with a form of autism so profound and intransigent that I cannot accept the rule of law when the rule of law in use is beyond immensely cruel to infants and very young children. That cruelty produces resolute amnesia for the times of infancy and very early childhood in an apparent majority of people who arrive at typical adult age and social development.

    Edward Snowden, so I understand, commented about this, albeit, methinks,indirectly:

    The shock of this initial period [after the first revelations] will provide the support needed to build a more equal internet, but this will not work to the advantage of the average person unless science outpaces law. By understanding the mechanisms through which our privacy is violated, we can win here. We can guarantee for all people equal protection against unreasonable search through universal laws, but only if the technical community is willing to face the threat and commit to implementing over-engineered solutions. In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary: one enforced by the laws of nature, rather than the policies of man.

    Greenwald, Glenn (2014-05-13). No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Kindle Locations 221-226). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

    I do the work I do in bioengineering with the purpose of doing my part to allow science to outpace the law, for, and only for, the sake of the survival of the human species. Whether or not I may deserve eternal hellish torture for this, because the human species cannot be redeemed and cannot elude destroying the whole of life on earth for the sake of its trauma-induced psychotic, childhood-destroying delusions is beyond my ken.

  5. Mr. Schulte,

    A line from Baretta is certainly apt in discussions regarding many far right wing fantasies but its use as the basis of an ontological bootstrap in a discussion about reality could be quite dangerous.

    The adolescent oversimplification combined with a basic logical fallacy presents a very real danger of ripping a hole in the space/time continuum of ignorance.

    Care to play irrelevant Star Trek quotes?

    It must certainly be easier than trying to justify life imprisonment for pot brownies or justifying the threat of life imprisonment to bully someone out of their right to a fair trial (i.e. the subjects of this post).

    By the way, this guy does deserve a trial, right? Heck, even Baretta’s Robert Blake got a trial. Of course, he was facing life in prison for murder (not something serious like pot brownies).

    1. fiver – the pot brownies are only part of the issue. He had a pound of pot, which is selling weight. Some sayings, though trite, are also true.

  6. Not really sure what value, if any, a statement like “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” has in this context. Not only does it substitute a slogan for reasoning (If it rhymes it must be true!), but it avoids the very subject of the debate.

    What seems to be at issue here is whether the criminality of and/or the possible sentence for marijuana is wise and just. While I recognize that offering a reasoned argument in favor of life imprisonment for pot brownies is difficult if not impossible, simply assuming the wisdom and justice of the law and sentence then blaming the victim with a line from the Baretta theme song seems beyond trite.

    1. fiver – when you are making pot brownies you should know what the possible downside is. The Baretta line is apt in this situation. He is hardly a victim.

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