Attorney General Issues Uniform Sentencing Guidelines For Cocaine Possession Cases, Regardless Of Whether It Is Crack Or Powder
In Florida, whether the weather is warm all year round, it is always a good time for a popsicle. Because of this, your parents always keep the freezer stocked with popsicles, whether it is the supermarket brand ones that only come in cherry, grape, and orange or those fancy, rocket ship-shaped ones that are red, white, and blue all in the same pop, or even Otter Pops which are, perplexingly, sold at room temperature. Every time she visits you, your grandmother balks at all the popsicles your parents let you eat, and she gives your parents an earful about the dangers of junk food. Meanwhile, when you visit your grandparents, the Hawaiian Punch, orange Tang, and blue Kool Aid flow freely. The difference between crack cocaine and the fine powder that fueled Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and the classic era of Saturday Night Live is approximately the difference between an Otter Pop and Hi-C Ecto Cooler. For decades, criminal courts in the United States imposed much harsher sentences for crack cocaine than for powder cocaine, but that is about to change. If you are facing criminal charges for cocaine possession, contact a Florida drug offenses attorney.
Is Crack Cocaine Really Worse Than Powder?
Starting at the beginning of 2023, when a defendant gets convicted of cocaine possession, whether the cocaine is crack or powder will not affect the sentence. A defendant convicted of possessing 100 grams of powder cocaine will receive the same sentence as a defendant convicted of possessing 100 grams of crack cocaine. This new rule is a departure from the way that courts have handled cocaine cases since the 1980s, when crack cocaine first became widespread in the United States.
In response to the so-called crack epidemic, courts imposed sentences for powder and crack cocaine on a 100 to 1 ratio, so the penalty for possession of five grams of crack was the same as the penalty for possession of 500 grams of powder. Combined with the mandatory minimum sentencing boom of the 1990s, this meant many thousands of defendants served long prison sentences for possessing trivial amounts of crack. These drug policies disproportionately targeted Black defendants, who represented more than three quarters of all crack cocaine convictions, despite representing only one third of crack users. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 changed the ratio to 18 to 1. Some incarcerated defendants saw their sentences shortened as a result of the First Step Act of 2018.
Attorney General Merrick Garland acknowledged that there is no scientific basis for treating crack cocaine differently from powder cocaine from a legal standpoint. Now defendants accused of possession of crack cocaine will be treated like defendants in any other drug possession cases.
Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Cocaine Possession Cases
A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing charges for possession of crack or powder cocaine. Contact FL Drug Defense Group in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.