The new federal law that reduces the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, while a victory for racial justice advocates, may have largely symbolic effects, says the Oakland Tribune. Alameda County prosecutor Norbert Chu notes that the Fair Sentencing Act will have no impact on prosecutions under state law, which treats the sale of the drugs differently but the penalties for possessing crack and powder cocaine are the same.
Police report that crack is a major problem on the streets of California cities like Oakland and Richmond. Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi, who has spent much of her career in drug units, said it doesn’t matter what the drug is — they all result in street violence. “If people are going to be fighting over drug territory, and you have families impacted where a parent is addicted or imprisoned over drugs, it doesn’t matter if it was crack cocaine or powder cocaine,” Joshi said. “Clearly, crack cocaine is cheaper, and that’s the difference and why you see its impact in low-income communities.”