Crack Cocaine Legalities

During the 1980s, cocaine and crack cocaine became increasingly popular and available in the U.S. There were differences in how the two substances were viewed for purposes of prosecution, although they are basically the same drug. In 1986, with the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine given a five-year mandatory, minimum sentence, even for a first offense. The same sentence existed for possession of at least 500 grams of cocaine. Nationwide, “Simple possession of any quantity of any other substance by a first-time offender--including powder cocaine--is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum of one year in prison.” (21 U.S.C. 844.) The disparity of this law was in response to America’s experience of the widespread nature of crack’s popularity and the ensuing numbers of addicts being seen in courts and treatment locations. These laws were more severe than for any other drug of abuse. In U.S. federal courts, the average sentence for even smaller distributors/dealers and those facing their first conviction was about 10 and 1/2 years, a sharp contrast to the national average sentence for first-time drug possession sentences ofabout 81 months (or less than seven years) which does not stipulate for amount of drug in possession. The U.S. created and passed the Fairness in Sentencing Act of 2010, which amended the Controlled Substances Act to include crack cocaine in amounts similar to those of cocaine and to sentence offenders in accordance to this measure.

Crack Laws in the United States

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule I drug by the the United Nations Convention of 1961. Therefore, it is illegal to produce, manufacture, import or export, trade, distribute, use or possess except by state-sanctioned purpose. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug according to the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has high potential for abuse and addiction, but remains a drug that also remains useful for medicinal purposes. This is the law that mandates the same distinction for both cocaine and crack cocaine. Trafficking in cocaine or cocaine base, as it is called by the DEA, carries penalties, depending on amount being trafficked and number of previous convictions for trafficking. No less than 5 years is the minimal penalty for first time convictions, along with a minimum fine of $5 million. This is for amounts between 500-4999 grams of cocaine and 28-279 grams of base mixture.

California Law

Conviction for possession of cocaine or crack in California results in a minimum sentence in State prison of 2-4 years. There are variable and additional penalties assessed if possession or sales are determined to include minor children in any fashion. Sale of cocaine or base will result in sentences from 3-9 years. Trafficking or transportation/import of cocaine receives 3-5 years in State prison.

Cocaine Laws in UK

Crack is a Class A drug in the UK. Penalties for violation of drug laws in UK can be severe. Possession of cocaine for personal use in the UK will result in a prison term of at least 7 years with a fine. Sales or transportation of cocaine/crack result in a life sentence in prison.

Crack Cocaine Laws in Canada

Crack and cocaine are considered as Schedule I substances in Canada. Possession convictions can carry a maximum of 7 years in prison. A life sentence is possible for trafficking and/or production of cocaine. A lesser degree conviction for possession would include a $1000-$2000 fine and between 6 months to one year in prison.
  • Need Crack Cocaine Treatment?

    Call our 24-hour helpline 844-343-4915

  • Questions?

    Have questions about Crack Cocaine? Check out Crack Cocaine Q&A

  • Not decided?

    Talk to an expert about your concerns by filling out our Consultation Form.