Experts Debate Appropriate Drug Sentences

By Staff Writer

Despite the fact that cocaine addiction is far more harmful to a person’s health than other drugs, courts continue to enforce penalties against users of the substance that are similar to other less dangerous drugs. This has prompted some experts to say that sentencing guidelines should be reevaluated.

Last week, a New York man who pled guilty to selling the party drug ecstasy was given a sentence that was the equivalent of a penalty for selling cocaine, according to Courthouse News Service. It wasn’t until another judge reviewed the case that the man’s sentence was reduced.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III said that cocaine addiction is a far more serious problem, and that ecstasy is known to be far less damaging. Therefore, he said it should not be given the same weight when sentencing.

According to Congressional Digest, there has been significant debate in recent months over the degree to which a drug’s damaging effects should be considered during sentencing of criminals. Most recently, the courts have argued whether possession and sale of crack cocaine should be judged more harshly than possession and sale of powder cocaine.