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Crack Cocaine (Defined as Cocaine Base) is Cocaine; Higher Sentence is Impermissible


September-October 1994

In an important cocaine sentencing case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that there is no scientific basis for the disparity in sentences between cocaine base and cocaine powder (U.S. v. Davis, DC NGa, 55 CrL 1531, Aug. 26, 1994). It found that both the chemical nature of crack and its means of manufacture have little to do with the extent to which crack is abused in contrast to cocaine powder. Thus finding the sentencing rules ambiguous, the court applied the rule of lenity and applied the lower "cocaine" sentences to the defendants facing possible "cocaine base" sentences.