Mandatory sentences for crack have been 100 times those for cocaine since the 80s. Congress has just reduced the ratio to 18 to 1. Steven Taylor draws lessons:
I would not recommend crack cocaine usage and there were (and are) still social costs of some significance associated with its usage. The problem with the reaction in the 1980s was that, like much of our drug laws, we overreact and make rules based on fear and the drama of the moment rather than rational consideration of the problem. We paint each new drug as practically the end of the world and react accordingly (the current drug of fear is meth-in the past it was heroin). Again: all of these are substances that cause substantial harm, but we tend to lack a sense of proportion in dealing with them.
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