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The Crack Cocaine v. Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity – Powder Cocaine and Cocaine Base (“Crack”) are the Same Drug

As I have been discussing in previous blogs, the rationale behind the 100:1 powder cocaine to crack cocaine sentencing disparity has been proven to be unfounded and false. Yet another argument the New York criminal defense firm Tilem & Campbell is raising in one of our appellate challenges to the constitutionality of the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine is that crack cocaine and powder cocaine are the same drug.

As observed by the United States Supreme Court, crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug and they share the same active ingredient – cocaine hydrochloride. Kimbrough v. U.S. 128 S.Ct. 558, 566 (2007). Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that the physiological and psychotropic effects of crack and powder cocaine are the same, and the drugs are now widely acknowledged as pharmacologically identical.

For example, a 1996 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found analogous effects on the body for both crack and powder cocaine.

Similarly, Charles Schuster, former Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found that once cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the brain its effects on brain chemistry are identical regardless of whether it is crack or powder.

In fact, crack cocaine is made by taking cocaine powder and cooking it with baking soda and water until it forms a hard substance. This hard substance can then be broken into pieces (rocks) and sold in small quantities.

Whether it remains powder cocaine or is “baked” into crack cocaine, the fact remains that they are the same drug and produce the same effects on the body. There can be therefore, no rationale basis to punish crack cocaine offenses more severely than powder cocaine offenses.
If you would like a free consultation regarding any New York or federal drug offense or sentencing issue, feel free to contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-888-ANY-CRIME or visit us on the web at 888ANYCRIME.COM.

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2 responses to “The Crack Cocaine v. Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity – Powder Cocaine and Cocaine Base (“Crack”) are the Same Drug”

  1. JP says:

    Has the disparity of sentencing between crack cocaine and power concaine been resolved yet? Who creates sentencing guidelines? Would the US Supreme Court review this issue?

  2. JP Perrault says:

    Has the disparity of sentencing between crack cocaine and power concaine been resolved yet? Who creates sentencing guidelines? Would the US Supreme Court review this issue?