San Francisco (Obama.net)- It is no secret that drug laws in the United States of America are quite strict. Just by being in possession of the simplest drugs, one is at risk of facing a lengthy prison term. But the drug laws are also complicated and imbalanced as different forces of the same drug result in different levels of severity of prison term. President Barack Obama is looking to decrease the gap.
Tuesday, Obama passed a new law that makes the mandatory prison terms for crack cocaine and powdered cocaine closer in time length.
Obama reduced the lengths for crack cocaine.
This issue also has a racial undertone as for the last 25 years, the majority of users of crack cocaine have been African Americans, while most of the people who consumed the powder version of cocaine have been white. The prison terms have been notably longer for those imprisoned for crack cocaine rather than the powder form.
The new law will only apply to future cases at the federal level despite the fact that the majority of drug cases take place in the state courts.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, most states already do treat powder cocaine and crack cocaine as the same level drug, something Obama is pleased to know.
The new law replaces the old one from 1986 where an equal sentence would be set for someone who has one hundred grams of powder cocaine and for someone who has one gram of crack cocaine. The new law changes it from 100 to 1, to 18 to 1, a much better ratio.
The bill also says that there is now no mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a first time offender.
Obama’s work on the sentences associated with both versions of cocaine provides a cushion for first time offenders and those who simply made one mistake. The laws against hard offenders and repeat offenders will remain stringent.