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Crack

  • By: Lawrence P. Carter
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Crack is a form of cocaine that is made by mixing a salt form of cocaine (hydrochloride) with a base such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to convert the salt form of the drug to the base form. This conversion produces a form of smokable cocaine.

In the 1980s concerns regarding the increased availability of crack at relatively low prices and the perceived greater magnitude of its harmful effects led to mandatory minimum federal sentencing guidelines that were more punitive for crack than cocaine hydrochloride. Scientific studies that compare the effects of crack and cocaine hydrochloride have shown that the way that cocaine is administered (snorting, smoking, or injecting) has the greatest influence on its effects. In the United States, the prevalence of crack use is ...

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