Drug War

Obama Closes Gap Between Crack, Powder Cocaine

President Obama signed into law a new measure that will narrow the huge sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. According to a 1986 law, it took possession of 100 times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger a five-to-10 year mandatory minimum sentence. Now, the ratio is reduced to 18-to-1. The new law also repeals the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of crack cocaine. The initial law was based on the belief that crack was more dangerous, addictive, and generally harmful to society, though experts testifying before Congress said that that is not actually the case. The 1986 law affected blacks more than whites, with blacks accounting for 30 percent of crack use and making up 82 percent of the convictions. “When one looks at the racial implications of the crack-powder disparity, it has bred disrespect for our criminal justice system,” Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2009.