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Potential life prison term for marijuana baked goods?

Although a number of people in North Carolina and nationally might find the following drug-related story more than a bit outlandish, it is very real and features immensely sobering consequences for the young man who is its central character.

That man is still a teenager, a 19-year-old Texan who admittedly had an unlawful entrepreneurial venture going on in his apartment when a police officer knocked on his door on a day in April.

His act of wrongdoing: selling cookies and brownies containing marijuana and hash oil.

His criminal drug charge: felony manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance.

What has gained more than a modicum of national attention is the sentence potentially associated with that activity. The young man faces a prison term that ranges between five years and a life sentence.

What has many commentators fixated on the story is the fact that, while possessing up to two ounces of pot in Texas is a misdemeanor, possession of hash oil is a decidedly different matter.

In fact, it is a felony and, because of that fact, criminal authorities were authorized to weigh all the ingredients in the sweets being sold to determine the weight of what was deemed an illegal substance.

Assuredly, many people across the country will reasonably question whether the punishment fits the crime in this singular matter. In fact, and given the fact that many multiple and violent offenders are let out of prison after serving relatively short sentences, public opinion might largely conclude that the criminal charge is both ludicrous and a travesty of justice.

Perhaps Texas legal authorities are of the same mind and growing sensitive to the national attention they are receiving. One media outlet reports that the district attorney in the case has offered a plea bargain pursuant to which the young man can avoid any period of incarceration.

We will keep readers posted of material developments in this case.

Source: USA TODAY, “Man facing life for pot brownies: ‘scary situation,’ ” Ashley Goudeau, May22, 2014

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