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Life in prison for a single batch of pot brownies? It may happen

We have previously written about how increasingly strict state and federal drug laws have resulted in disproportionately harsh sentences for many non-violent offenders. Mandatory minimums and similar laws essentially take away a judge’s discretion and force them to impose sentences that may be wildly inappropriate. Other times, these laws give overzealous prosecutors an excuse to impose unreasonable charges on a defendant.

As just one example, consider the case of a 19-year-old man from Texas. If convicted of the drug charges against him, he could spend between five years and life in prison. His crime? He baked and sold a single batch of pot brownies.

According to news sources, the batch of pot brownies weighed about 1.5 pounds, but regular brownie ingredients accounted for the vast majority of the weight. If he had used marijuana leaves in the recipe the charge would likely have been a misdemeanor. Instead he used hash oil, which can be charged differently under Texas law. Because of that one ingredient variation, the entire weight of the brownies can be considered in the charges, upgrading them to a first-degree felony.

Needless to say, many are angry about this case and have commented as such. A spokesperson for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws noted that “This case highlights both the absurdity and devastation of our nation's ongoing war on marijuana. While Colorado and Washington have ushered in the age of legalization, many states still harshly criminalize marijuana and hand out egregious sentences for its possession.”

The boy’s father also said that while he thinks his son may deserve punishment for baking and selling the brownies, the proposed punishment is beyond the pale.

Louisiana’s drug laws can be similarly draconian at times, even as drugs like marijuana are being either decriminalized or legalized in other states. Until or unless real legal reform occurs, drug crime defendants need the legal expertise and advocacy of experienced criminal defense attorneys.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Teen Faces Life In Prison Over Hash Brownies," David Moye, May 21, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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