Friday, July 30, 2010


In today’s dangerous drug world, it is important for everyone from users to doctors to concerned parents to understand the differences between coke and crack. Cocaine has been around much longer, and is considered a more stable drug. By stable we are referring to price, consistent purity, and ease of availability.
Cocaine takes nearly 15 minutes to interact with the body’s system and produce the effects it is used for, while crack tends to be a nearly instantaneous hit at 15 seconds. This makes cocaine a more popular drug among those who are hedging toward the “safe side” versus those that are looking for a more “wild ride.” Crack is generally considered to be a more potent and dangerous drug because it entices the user to lose control of their thoughts and actions more directly than coke users. It is also instantaneously addictive.

That little bit of background should help to understand how important the recent actions of our House of Representatives last week. You see, they passed a bill Wednesday that would reduce the disparities between mandatory federal sentences for crack and powder cocaine violations, a step toward ending what legal experts say have been unfairly harsh punishments imposed mainly on blacks.

What brings the issue of race into the equation is availability and price. Crack is a fraction of the cost per dose than cocaine and since it's boom in popularity in the 80's, the lower income, inner city population became the battleground for law enforcement and addiction facilities. As a result, this plague disproportionately filled our prisons with young black and Latino drug users.

According to online sources: Under the current law, adopted in 1986 after a surge in crack cocaine smoking and drug-related killings, someone convicted in federal court of possession of five grams of crack must be sentenced to at least five years in prison, and possession of 10 grams requires a 10-year minimum sentence. With powder cocaine, the threshold amounts for those mandatory sentences are 100 times as high.

From the news programs Thursday night, I see the amount of crack that would invoke a five-year minimum sentence is raised to 28 grams and for a 10-year sentence, 280 grams. Although the use has diminished in recent years, 80% of those convicted on possession are still minorities.

Reported by the New York Times: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that under the new law, shorter sentences for possessors of small amounts of crack will save the federal prison system about $50 million over the next five years. Money that could be better spent on rehabilitation clinics I'm sure.

I don't think this drastic change in sentencing could have happened at any other time in administrative history. Although I am not an advocate for the use of any of these drugs, the incarceration costs to the taxpayer has increased steadily for decades. This, in addition to what I wrote last week about marijuana and sales tax, could really take the pressure off our prison system. But I'm not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

The disparity in sentencing was intentional. Dont even second guess this fact. Law enforcement and politicians knew full well who was more likely to use crack and knew how the induction of the phenomenon was brought into this country through "participating governmental authorities". Once it took hold, they could ramp up the "War on Drugs" campaign while funneling the new cash flow toward stealth programs in the Americas.

There's a whole lotta story about the origins of many of the drugs that plague our society. Most of them are only discovered if you bother to dig a little deeper.

Dr Sham-Wow

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know what percentage of people are convicted of just crack possesion?

While I agree with you on pot, which IMHO is similar in effect on a person as alcohol. Crack and the harder drugs are more addictive, and the users are more likely to commit crimes to pay for their addiction. This will happen regardless of whether it is legal or not. The only thing decriminalizing will do is open the possibility up to more people accessing and becoming addicted to it.

one who knows said...

been thru all the drug years & drugs since the 60's - coke in ANY form SUCKS !! it destroys your nervous system, yr teeth, yr family, yr friends, yr business yr L I F E !

COCAINE SUCKS ! flake, rock, powder or CRACK !


dont be a f**'n idiot


Mike Madsen said...

12:43... Well said. We may be heading toward enlightenment with hemp, but the world of narcotics is to remain the scurge of our society.
Other than alcohol; crack, coke, heroin and meth destroy everything that's good in our lives. Glad you're still with us to remind us.

Mike Madsen said...

I meant "Other than alcohol, the illegal drugs such as..."
I said that because the legal drug "alcohol" has done worse for far too many years.