DEFENDER SERVICES OFFICE
TRAINING DIVISION





CRACK COCAINE SENTENCING >
2007 CRACK COCAINE GUIDELINE AMENDMENTS


  • Overview: On November 1, 2007, the Commission amended the crack guidelines, lowering the penalties for most crack cocaine offenses in USSG §2D1.1 by two levels. On December 11, 2007, the Commission voted to make the amended guidelines retroactive to cases sentenced before November 1, 2007, with an effective date of March 3, 2008. The Commission also significantly modified USSG §1B1.10, which addresses the retroactive application of amendments. Through an amendment effective May 1, 2008 (Amendment 715), the Commission further modified USSG §2D1.1, revising the way in which combined offense levels are determined in cases involving crack and other drugs. The amendment, which was also made retroactive, provides that 1 gram of cocaine base equals 20 kilograms of marijuana and provides for a two-level reduction in the combined offense level for polydrug cases unless certain exceptions apply.

    Note that the Commission has since undone many of these changes with its promulgation of the 2010 FSA guideline amendment (see above on this page).

  • Mathematical Anomalies Resulting from Drug Equivalency and Quantity Tables: When the USSC amended the crack cocaine guideline to reduce the base offense levels in November 2007, two separate types of mathematical anomalies resulted: (1) within range-anomalies and differing ratios between crack and powder cocaine in the drug quantity table; and (2) false equivalencies in poly-drug cases resulting from a new crack-to-marijuana equivalency table, resulting in base offense levels no different than pre-amendment levels. The first of these anomalies remains; see this summary for further discussion. With Amendment 715, effective May 1, 2008, the Commission remedied the second of these anomalies (see Remedy to False Equivalencies in Poly-Drug Cases for further detail).

  • Retroactive Application of the 2007 Amendment