Judiciary Committee Waters Down Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing Bill

President Obama promised to work to equalize crack and powder cocaine penalties. He said he would urge Congress to eliminate the five year mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of 5 grams or more of crack and eliminate the 100:1 disparate ratio of penalties for crack vs. powder cocaine.

This morning, The Senate Judiciary Committee held a markup hearing on S.1789, The Fair Sentencing Act (Durbin, Leahy, Feingold, Cardin, Whitehouse, Kaufman, Specter, Franken.)

The result: A compromise. The 100:1 ratio and mandatory minimum sentences will not be eliminated, but reduced to 20:1. In other words, no equalization. Crack cocaine will continue to carry a penalty 20 times more severe than powder cocaine. Is it an improvement? Yes. Is it good enough? No.

The Dem's love affair with bi-partisanship continues: [More...]

[T]he deal was approved by the committee 19-0 and now goes to the floor of the Senate.

"If Jeff Sessions and Dick Durbin can come to an agreement, bipartisanship is not dead," said Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois.

Currently, possession of 5 grams of crack triggers a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence. It takes 500 grams of powder to trigger the 5 year mandatory minimum. So now, crack will still carry a penalty 20 times more severe than powder.

There's more bad stuff in the bill as introduced -- it reeks of Joe Biden-type influences -- increased sentencing guidelines for some drug crimes through application of aggravating factors.

The bill we needed was Bobby Scott's H.R. 3245 which passed the House Judiciary Committee in July. It would have eliminated the "100 to 1" disparity by removing the word "crack cocaine" in the criminal code.

Instead, we get another crime bill with increased penalties and no equalization.

Again, while the reduction is an improvement, the bill is a big disappointment.

< Would The Senate Doublecross The House? | Breaking: Guilty Verdict in Darrent Williams - Willie Clark Murder Trial >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Sigh ... (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by nyrias on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:37:17 AM EST
    personally i am the law and order type with respect to violent crimes (punishing the convicted as harsh as possible is fine with me).

    However, my stance flipped 180 concerning victimless crime. I think cocaine is bad for a person (obviously) but if someone want to blow their brains out with white powder, well .. it is their stupid choice to make.

    The best solution is to legalize the damn thing and control it like alcohol. In fact, the govt can set up clinics & designated use areas and at least get rid of the crime aspects of this whole underground economy.

    Does prohibition teach people anything? It is pointless to try to force EVERYONE to live a "clean" life. Never works for alcohol, prostitution, gambling nor drugs.

    I'm thinking... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:39:23 AM EST
    Wall St. made another phone call..."you can't make our version of the drug subject to the same punishment as the unwashed mass version...we're special."

    Not only do we need to remove "crack cocaine" from our criminal code...we need to face reality and remove cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, etc, etc., etc.  But I realize dealing with the reality of thousands of years of human nature is unpopular.

    What passes the Senate Committee (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Peter G on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:59:32 AM EST
    is not law.  The House Committee, as you noted, already passed a much better bill.  If each body passes what its committee recommended, which it may or may not, the issue will go to a conference committee, and whatever the conference committee does gets resubmitted to both Houses for final approval.  At any of those steps, things could get worse or could get better.  Folks who want to see greater fairness in drug sentencing should keep pressing for it.  This is not the end.

    How can you split the difference on (5.00 / 0) (#45)
    by esmense on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:48:40 PM EST
    something like this? The 100x sentencing disparity is unjust and doesn't make logical or moral sense. What ideological principle is being catered to or is satisfied by "compromising" with a 20x disparity?

    Doesn't make sense to me.

    Few ever ask WHY (some) drugs are illegal (5.00 / 0) (#51)
    by Yes2Truth on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:29:54 PM EST

    Which suggests they really haven't ever given any thought to the monstrous evils that are caused by
    criminalizing some (mostly) harmless drugs,
    locking people up and ruining their lives if they're
    caught with them...yet

    Allowing/subsidizing truly dangerous Rx drugs and
    the astoundingly dangerous substance aka alcohol.

    "Why" is the most important word in the English language and THINKING is the hardest work most people ever do...which is why so little of it ever gets done.

    BLue Bunny Dems turn tail and run at the slightest (5.00 / 0) (#53)
    by jawbone on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:40:38 PM EST
    threat of negative ads and criticsm form the Repubs and MCMers (Members of the mainstream corporate media).

    No spines. It's being noticed, Dems.


    I Disagree (1.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:34:11 PM EST
    I think the issue with drugs is the severity of damage the drug inflicts to the user and to society.  Crack turns cheerleaders into street walkers, cocaine doesn't.  Coke heads aren't exactly a fun bunch either, but damn, there is nothing sadder than a crack head out of crack.

    There should be some disparity, just like there is with opiates.  Heroin and codeine are Schedule 1, most other opiates are Schedule 2, and a couple are even Schedule 3.  Move cocaine to Schedule 2, the crack, in the eye of the government, will be deemed more dangerous, thus allowing the disparity.

    Is crack really yellow ?

    Addiction is sad... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:52:55 PM EST
    I just never got how adding the sadness of prison to the equations did to make it any happier.

    We can surrender the bullsh*t war on drugs, and respect responsible drug users inalienable right to imbibe whatever they wish as they wish, while at the same time doing what we can as a society to deal with the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction.  

    Besides, with crack prohibited, the cheerleader doesn't need to show any ID, and depending on where she lives it's easier to score crack than it is to score a pack of cigs.  If you really wanna keep cheerleaders off the pipe, legalize and regulate...otherwise I'm led to believe you don't care about the poor little cheerleaders well-being, you care about the well-being of the prison industrial complex.


    Of course (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:11:24 PM EST
    Addiction is sad, and devastating.  (And so is addiction to alcohol, which is legal.)  But putting someone in jail for using is not the answer.  I have thought long and hard about this.  Legalize, regulate, tax, and use the tax money (and the money saved from not having to try and incarcerate drug cases) to make rehabilitation readily available.  I think that's the only answer, because, sure as he!!, whatever they're doing with the so-called "War on Drugs" isn't working, except maybe to provide jobs for a lot of prison guards and ancillary prison service providers, and to enrich the private companies which are running far too many of our prisons.  Not exactly a great reason to continue this particular "War."

    Amen sister... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:33:25 PM EST
    there really is no shiny happy answer...we're talking about humanity here, with all its inherent good and evil.  Like a doctor, first society must do no more harm...that means throwing the chain and cages for drugs onto the scrap heap of history.

    Now how do we get those pesky masters of the universe on Wall St. on board, they love makin' a killin' laundering that black market drug money.  No legal drug distributor is gonna take 50 cents on the dollar from their bank:)


    It is my understanding rehabilitation (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:46:06 PM EST
    is available, often in lieu of incarceration and often in lieu of a conviction.

    Change "often" to "always"... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:01:13 PM EST
    and we're there kid...unless of course there is a real crime involved, then I believe your addictions should not be even considered by the eyes of the law.

    Do you consider possession for purposes (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:20:11 PM EST
    of sale and/or distribution and/or transportation to be real crimes?

    No... (none / 0) (#46)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:35:06 PM EST
    of course not, just as I don't consider sale/distribution/transportation of bacon to be a crime.  Where's the victim?

    High cholesterol, Kdog! (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:08:05 PM EST
    And obesity!  Think of the children!  Won't somebody please think of the obese children?  Sorry for the snark, but if someone is selling, distributing, transporting something and does no harm to others (no violence to people, or property damage of any kind), then I agree, Dog.  If you are only hurting yourself, it's very, very sad for you, but the draconian drug laws don't seem to be helping in any way.  I would argue that, if the drugs were legal, there wouldn't be drug cartels, drug gangs, etc.  The crimes and violence associated with illegal alcohol during Prohibition (and there was a whole lot of that) certainly pretty much vanished after Prohibition was repealed.

    Don't be sorry... (5.00 / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:31:07 PM EST
    thats good snark...but all kidding aside, there are vegan tyrants who would make possesion of delicous swine a crime if they could...no doubt.  With sentence disparities between pork loin and the more addictive bacon, I'm sure.  Then pork distributors would be shooting up the streets.

    We can be tremendously stupid beasts sometimes.


    I Agree (none / 0) (#23)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:41:59 PM EST
    My comments were meant that to distinguish that there is a difference between crack and cocaine, not defend their legal status.

    I am all for legalizing, we all know the states could use the cash.  I doubt legalizing will have much effect on youth usage, if they want it, they will get it.  Legalizing would also create a pure product, no more smoking, snorting, shooting up whatever some scumbag decides he is going to cut it with.  

    Seriously, what kind of market do you think there would be for organic blow or weed ?  Fricken huge, no pesticides or chemical cutting agents, the yuppies with their bankrolls would solve a lot of state shortages like yesterday.


    Good to hear sir... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:56:57 PM EST
    the only differences I see between crack and cocaine is one is smoked and one is (usually)snorted, the price, and most importantly, who tends to use it (well to do vs. broke-d*cks)...thats where the nefarious reasons for the sentence disparity come into play.  There are probably more coke-whores than crack-hos, only you don't see the coke-whores, they're holed up in a penthouse with the shades drawn on a bender...the crack-hos are on the corner in plain sight.

    I tend to think the only reason a crackhead might be more of a nuisance than a cokehead is because a cokehead hasn't run out of money yet, when they do run out of money they become crackheads, or get clean.  Then again, you're more likely to have a coke-head handling your retirement or performing your next surgery...so maybe they are the bigger nuisance, again just not as visible as the crackhead out mugging old ladies.


    Well.... (none / 0) (#31)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:22:48 PM EST
    If you have any proof of that let me know.

    I am not arguing that there are plenty of coke whores, but again, the examples you mention seem to all indicate that coke isn't as dangerous.  If you had to choose one, would you take the penthouse or the street, one is clearly more dangerous, and to me the more dangerous the behavior, the more dangerous the drug.

    Clearly this is an opinion, but the fact that the State recognizes clear difference with opiates means that the State feels like the same drug in different forms is dangerous at different levels.

    I don't see anyone complaining about the sentencing disparity between heroin and opium.  They aren't even on the same drug schedule.

    These are the same people that probably don't know anyone addicted to crack or cocaine or never had dealings with either, I have and I think one is far more dangerous then the other, and I think the law should reflect that.

    100:1 is insane, 20:1 is excessive, but to me they are clearly at different levels as far as burdens to society and the damage they do to at an individual level.

    An interesting fact I bet you didn't know, crackheads don't like snorting cocaine.


    Just my casual observations... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:52:46 PM EST
    the differences I talked about have nothing to do with the form of cocaine, but the bank account/means of the user.

    The people I know who had their problems with coke and crack...coke first, and crack when money got tight, if it got tight...they weren't the type to turn down any cocaine based product you put in front of them.  But that might not be the norm...when they started farkin' with that crap I hung out with them less or not at all...sitting in a room for 3 days, shades drawn, and hardcore pron on the tube is not my idea of fun:)  I just think calling it criminal is ludicrous, and is a "cure" with side effects worse than the disease.


    This is an unjust, but not unusual (none / 0) (#58)
    by esmense on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:14:00 AM EST
    way to determine punishment -- by who commits the crime.

    In every area society tends to be more appalled and frightened by the poor criminal than the rich one, and to mete out different consequences as a result.

    The reasons for the disparity between consequences for crack vs. coke, are no different than the disparities in how we treat (and fear) low income petty crooks vs., for instance, high income white collar criminals. It isn't about what is just, and can't be defended logically.

    Because these disparities based on economic status aren't based in or about justice. They are about exerting social control.


    I would add that of course it is only for (none / 0) (#59)
    by esmense on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:31:15 AM EST
    their own good

    they are the same (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:46:39 PM EST
    pharmacologically. There is no reason to treat them differently from a legal standpoint.

    OK (none / 0) (#25)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:55:26 PM EST
    And my comment was meant to suggest you expand your source material because there is no, none, nada, zero, difference between crack and cocaine. The only chemical difference in the socioeconomic level of the users.

    cocaine is schedule II (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:57:17 PM EST
    here's the list.

    Cocaine does have medically acceptable uses, for example  as a local anesthetic and vasoconstrictor, particularly in eye, ear and throat surgeries.

    That marijuana is a Schedule I, along with heroin, shows how wacky the schedules are.


    Totally agree, J. (n/t) (none / 0) (#50)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:09:27 PM EST
    WTF? (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:39:13 PM EST
    Crack turns cheerleaders into street walkers, cocaine doesn't.

    Is that knowledge from personal experience, or from reading GOP comic books?


    Seriously ?? (none / 0) (#27)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:56:46 PM EST
    I never seen, much less read a GOP comic book, or were you using that for a colorful point, like cheerleader turned hooker.  My point is that crack is far more dangerous then crack and the law should reflect that.

    I don't know from experience, cheerleaders didn't really dig me in school, but I run in some circles that are fairly shady.  I have had my fair partying with all kinds of users and crack heads are seriously gone.  You get sucked in because they seem like your average partier, but with a pipe, that is until the crack runs out, then the non-sense begins.  And yes, I have plenty of experience with that.


    Nonsense (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:58:27 PM EST
    There is zero difference between the two drugs, save for ridiculous disparities in sentencing. Here is a reading list for you direct from TL.

    A snippet:

    The majority of medical and scientific experts agree that objective scientific data does not support the notion that crack is more dangerous than powder cocaine. They are two forms of the same drug. The psychotropic and physiological effects of crack and powder cocaine are the same. The difference between the two lies in the way the drug is ingested -- powder cocaine is snorted through the nose or injected intravenously while crack cocaine is smoked in a pipe. Smoked crack has not been proven to be more addictive than injected powder.

    Moreover, since the enactment of this disparate penalty scheme, it has been statistically demonstrated time and again that the overwhelming majority of convicted crack offenders are African-American, while the vast majority of convicted powder cocaine offenders are white.

    From the AMA:

    Conclusion: Cocaine hydrochloride is readily converted to base prior to use.
    The physiological and psychoactive effects of cocaine are similar regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or crack cocaine (cocaine base).
    However, evidence exists showing a greater abuse liability, greater propensity for dependence, and more severe consequences when cocaine is smoked (cocaine-base) or injected intravenously (cocaine hydrochloride) compared with intranasal use (cocaine hydrochloride).

    That is pure non-sense (none / 0) (#57)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 09:11:48 AM EST
    and you know it.

    "The majority of medical and scientific experts"
    What experts, what study, this is your proof, is the majority, 51% or 99% ?  

    "The physiological and psychoactive effects of cocaine are similar regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or crack cocaine (cocaine base)."
    Similar, what 99% the same, 20% the same, similar isn't enough to close the book on this case.  

    No serious scientist would take 'majority' & 'similar' as proof.  No offense to anyone, but the opinions of TL aren't fact, they are opinions.  I respect them, but like anything else I read, I take it and consider other sources and my own life experience.

    As much as I love you accusatory tone in assuming I have some sort of agenda or political point, I don't and it is so irritating arguing with fellow liberals, they are damn near as irritating as wingers in their acceptance any anything with their labeled.  I think the sentencing disparities are ridiculous, and I wrote so, but you assume one thing, so what I have written is irrelevant, I suppose.

    Until someone can defend the disparity in opiates, don't preach to me about the disparity of cocaine.  Toss me a bone, a study of actual addicts, and I will admit I am wrong, but please don't insist that you know and give me 'similar' and 'majority' as proof, that is all I am asking.


    American Medical Association (none / 0) (#61)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:05:03 PM EST
    For one.  Lots of reading in my link. Guess it is more interesting for you to keep your myths afloat, then understand the real issues here. You are not alone, but I suggest a tough on crime web, prison nation, type site may be more suitable for you.

    Well .. it does not take a genius to know .. (none / 0) (#66)
    by nyrias on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 02:18:21 PM EST
    what drugs do to you.

    I think the responsibility falls to the user. You just cannot legislate stupidity away.



    Is that (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:55:31 AM EST
    what crack cocaine looks like?  It looks like cereal...

    To me, (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:23:58 PM EST
    it looks a heck of a lot like frankincense (I was born and raised Greek Orthodox and we use a lot of it in church- you know, the old "smells and bells").  Hmmmmmm.  No wonder the priests are always wafting so much of it around.......What does crack cocaine smell like burning, anyway?

    Frankinsence,myrhh (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jondee on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:37:05 PM EST
    and oven cleaner.

    ..and parsley, sage, rosemary (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by jondee on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:00:51 PM EST
    and cyanide.

    But really? (none / 0) (#55)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:31:07 AM EST
    This is what people get so riled about  - either outlawing or actually using?  This is what all the fuss is about?

    Seems like there's way better things to do with your time.


    I agree... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:38:32 AM EST
    When I tried cocaine I didn't get what all the fuss was about either...didn't care for it.  I guess it coulda been bunk sh*t, but the people I was with said it was good:)

    But it's all a matter of taste I guess.


    Question (none / 0) (#8)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:40:36 PM EST
    I don't know anything about drugs. I have enough trouble paying for the necessities of life without adding to the burden. My question is what is the rationale for the different sentencing?

    Institutionalized Racism (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:44:08 PM EST
    Because crack was seen as a 'Black' drug (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:51:47 PM EST
    In fact, that perception goes all the back to part of the the original rationale for the drug war: the racist perception that Blacks were somehow more susceptible to the effects of cocaine and its' derivatives than Whites, and become unstoppable berserk killers while intoxicated.

    Don't take my word for it, go here and here .

    This is what our drug laws are derived from. Not a scrap of science, but a ton of prejudice.


    Well, we could also (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by jondee on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:56:22 PM EST
    blame the "decay of our inner cities" on a drug epidemic and not have to seriously address the problem of the too-small-to-give-an-eff-if-they-fail mentality rampant at the beltway mens club (preoccupied with exporting to Mexico and China the part of the economy a lot of urban folk formally relied on)

    Also (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:47:16 PM EST
    Dark Alliance


    more here (wiki):


    Racism indeed. (none / 0) (#29)
    by lentinel on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:58:47 PM EST
    And.. if I'm not mistaken, we owe the fact that marijuana is illegal to the fact that Mexicans liked to smoke it.

    We can't have that.


    Actually (5.00 / 0) (#30)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:03:38 PM EST
    The endemic stereotyping and ensuing bigotry of Mexicans was used to make weed illegal, IOW it was much less about weed than flaming xenophobia for political gain. I doubt if there was any real correlation with heavier use by Mexicans than red blooded US americans.

    I thought that (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:01:44 PM EST
    the original prohibition on pot came about because of William Randolph Hearst and his "yellow journalism" war against marijuana.  Link.  And his admiration for Harry Anslinger.  I've always also wondered whether the continued animus against pot was at least in part because "liberal, anti-war hippies" used it (or were perceived to have used it), and so it must be "bad."  I didn't know about the Mexican connection.

    Good History (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:06:05 PM EST
    Very interesting, squeaky (none / 0) (#47)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:37:16 PM EST
    Thanks.  I knew about the Hearst-Anslinger connection, but had no idea about the racist roots of the marijuana prohibition.

    The origin of much of that article (none / 0) (#62)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:23:46 PM EST
    Can be found here: The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States; A Speech to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference  delivered by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School.

    It's very readable, largely free of legal gobbledygook, and pulls no punches about the hows and whys of drug prohibition's origins. namely, the above-mentioned racism. Shocking to think that so much ignorance and hatred was distilled into a law, but there it is.


    GOod One (none / 0) (#65)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:49:48 PM EST
    Hempman, is clearly a perfect synonym for strawman. This NYRB piece on Billie Holliday (With Billie
    by Julia Blackburn) depicts the tragic effect of the relentless attack on Jazz muscians for political gain.

    they're not equal (none / 0) (#16)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:51:17 PM EST
    Powder was around for years, but the age of massive drug wars and "crack hos" didn't hit until the age of crack in the mid 1980's.  

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:58:41 PM EST
    Mid 1980's....
    In 1984, Sandinista-run Nicaraguan government filed a suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States (Nicaragua vs. United States), which resulted in a 1986 judgment against the United States, calling on it to "cease and to refrain" from the "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua, through such actions as the placement of underwater mines by CIA operatives and training, funding and support for the guerrilla forces.



    I remember Gary Webb (none / 0) (#20)
    by jondee on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:05:57 PM EST
    and how they went after him..

    Apparently the circumstantial evidence for the Contra-crack connection was strong enough to permanently blow Ollie North's political ambitions out of the water.


    And Freeway Ricky Ross... (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:13:36 PM EST
    is left with the whole rap pinned on him...Kingpin Ollie walks, and his boss...him they wanna put on the Fifty-spot.  

    A lot to see if you can look past the crack-ho on the corner and follow the dough...sadly few ever seemed interested.


    Yes sir... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:10:40 PM EST
    flooding our country with cheap cocaine to fund dirty little foreign illegal wars doesn't happen in a bubble...consequences follow.

    And like Rahm said, never let a "crisis" go to waste...Reagan & his co-conspirators said we can fill the prisons while we're at it, and mostly with blacks...talk about a wet dream for cats like Reagan.


    And this guy tried to blow the whistle, too (none / 0) (#64)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:44:13 PM EST
    Former L.A. nark Mike Ruppert confronts then-CIA head John Deutch about CIA/crack marketing allegations.

    So did this guy: former DEA Agent Celerino Castillo. For his patriotism and being a  'good soldier' in the DrugWar, he's been sent to prison on trumped-up weapons charges to silence him.

    Weird, isn't it? The ones honestly trying to stop drugs from coming into this country run head-long into the ones who publicly say the same but privately are involved in the trade, themselves...and the honest ones go to the wall, while the ones who 'play ball' see their careers bloom.


    1936 (none / 0) (#26)
    by lentinel on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:56:06 PM EST
    In 1936, Cole Porter's lyrics to the song, "I Get a Kick Out of You" were:

    Some get a kick from cocaine
    I'm sure that if
    I took even one sniff
    That would bore me terrifically, too
    Yet, I get a kick out of you

    No big deal.

    Then it became a big deal and the lyrics were changed.

    Nice to have big brother around to tell us the manner in which we might be allowed to get our kicks.


    Misnomer (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:50:46 PM EST
    The Dem's love affair with bi-partisanship continues:

    I don't really think this is an expression of bi-partisanship.
    It is just another example of shared values and ethics.

    Is it correct the original sentencing (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:50:10 PM EST
    disparity stemmed from constituents in communitikes adversely affected by crack cocian asking their representatives in Congress to do something to alleviate the problem?

    Probably part of it.... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:54:50 PM EST
    sure...there is no more dangerous a cry to liberty than the cry to a legislator to "do something!".

    Famous last words, as they say...


    What I remember reading is AA (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:21:44 PM EST
    constituents were leaning on their representatives, as if was the former's communities and children being adversely affected.

    True... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:41:51 PM EST
    that was part of it.  Fear is not conducive to rational thought...i.e. what is the real problem in our community?  It wasn't crack...it was a lack of good job opportunities, good schools, hope.

    The real problem with the disparity (none / 0) (#44)
    by CST on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:37:51 PM EST
    as I see it is that it punishes the users over the dealers.  All crack starts out as cocaine.  The closer you are to the original source, the higher up in the drug trade food chain you are, the more likely it is you will have cocaine rather than crack in your possesion.

    Seems rather backwards to me.

    Why should a supplier be more severely... (none / 0) (#54)
    by Yes2Truth on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:43:44 PM EST

    punished than a user?  After all, if using a drug
    makes people do bad things, then it follows that
    USERS are who should be whipped the hardest and most.

    In a sane world, neither dealer nor user would be punished or even bothered by the authorities.


    a few good reasons (none / 0) (#60)
    by CST on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:40:11 AM EST
    First off, the people pushing are the ones more likely to be involved with other higher crimes.  Especially with the drug wars going on, you can't tell me that there isn't more violent crime and corruption at the higher levels.  I would say that the drug trade is what "makes people do bad things" to others, rather than the drug itself, which is primarily just bad for the user.

    Plus, it's the whole risk/reward thing.  These are the people who stand to gain the most from crime, so they should also face higher consequences.

    Ultimately, it's the violence associated with the drug trade, that makes me think it needs to be decriminalized and regulated.  There'd be no reason to kill someone over something you can get from a pharmacy.  

    That being said, in a world where it is criminalized, I think the people at the top are the ones who should be held the most responsible.  They are the ones who flood the streets with cheap drugs, they are the ones who are most likely to kill over territory, and they are the ones who make the most money when more people start using.  And in the case of crack/cocaine, they are much more likely to have cocaine, the higher up in the food chain they are.


    Not completely true (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:40:22 PM EST
    There'd be no reason to kill someone over something you can get from a pharmacy.  

    People get killed all the time for things that a killer can get at a store - shoes, jackets, sunglasses.

    While you may have an argument that the violence may decrease with the legalization of drugs, it not that simple to say that there won't be any need for violence if you can buy it legally. And while I support legalization, I think the arguments made here and elsewhere that "by legalizing drugs, then POOF!  all these problems will go away" are naive, at best.


    People do not get killed (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by CST on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 02:35:58 PM EST
    over sunglasses, etc... "all the time".

    There really is no comparison.  And I didn't say it would be better by magic and all problems would disappear.  I said the violence associated with the drug trade would be alleviated.  There is no violence associated with the sunglasses or shoe trade.  That doesn't mean no one ever gets robbed, but it's not "associated" with those things, because it doesn't happen frequently enough.

    If people start killing people over drugs as little as they kill each other over sneakers, I'd call that a huge success.

    Like kdog said, think of prohibition of liquor.  It's pretty much a direct precedent.


    There is historical precedent... (none / 0) (#67)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 02:22:55 PM EST
    violence associated with the black market drug trade will decrease with prohibition repeal...see alcohol prohibition and repeal.

    But yeah, violence will always plague the human race, problems will always be with us...but we can minimize it with a stroke of a few pens.