Douglas A. Berman found this potent editorial entitled "Bring Fairness to Drug Sentencing" that is focused on the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Here's an interesting paragraph:
Congress spawned a national trend toward discriminatory sentencing when it drew a false distinction between powdered cocaine and crack cocaine for law enforcement purposes during the 1980’s. Crack is simply powdered cocaine cooked in baking soda. The theory at the time - that it was more addictive and generated more violence than powder - was later proved false. By then, however, Congress had made crack the only drug that mandates a sentence for a first offense and fixed high sentences for people caught with relatively small quantities.
The “distinction", is that crack is more addictive and causes
more violent behavior. This, of course, has no scientific basis and was
disproved over and over again. But for the drug prohibition advocates,
this type of hyperbole or lying is simply par for the course. Can we really expect a modicum of candor from people who liken recreational marijuana use to Russian Roulette?
What this crack/coke distinction breeds is the disproportionate incarceration of blacks. The argument that the drugs are “tomato/toe-mah-toe” in that while each ethnic group has his own drug, that in no way suggests one drug is more heavily enforced. But that’s exactly what happens. While coke might have a more profitable trade, it doesn’t exist with the same prevalence at the street level and is not as easily purchased given its high price tag. This naturally translates into street cops coming into contact with crack with significantly higher frequency. This is almost identical to the government making both FUBU and Versace clothing illgeal (irrational in its own right), then arguing on top that FUBU wearers deserve higher punishment because those who wear the clothing are more prone to violence. And white people are baffled at black suspicion of the government?