A bill that equalizes sentencing provisions in Connecticut crack and powder cocaine laws was approved by the state Senate over opposition of critics who said it just gives crack dealers a break, the Hartford Courant reports. If signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the bill would set possession of 28 grams -1 ounce – of either crack or powder cocaine as the threshold for charging someone as a dealer. Now the trigger is 28 grams for powder cocaine but half a gram for crack cocaine, a smokeable and cheaper form.
Rell’s office said she has not decided whether to sign the measure. “This bill addresses a fundamental issue of disparity,” said Sen. Eric Coleman, a Democrat. About 72 percent of the inmates in state prisons are members of minority groups, and about 80 percent of them are there for drug-related crimes, said bill co-sponsor Sen. Andrew McDonald. Opponents said they could not back a plan that would increase the minimum amount of crack cocaine someone must have to be considered a dealer, not a user. “This sends the wrong message to drug dealers,” said Sen. John Kissel, a Republican. Sen. William H. Nickerson, a Republican, does not expect Rell to sign the crack cocaine bill, calling it “the clearest veto bill” of the year.