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Whites Lead in Use and We Lead in Prison


By Emory Curtis

editorialsThe media has really done a job on us by labeling African Americans as the predominant users of crack. The job is so good that even our own leaders seem to buy that view even when they lamely deny the allegation.

To tell you the truth, it could hardly be farther from the truth. In the early 90s the Department of Health and Human Services funded a large sample national household survey that covered drug use, among other items.

The results of that survey received little coverage. Maybe it is because it debunked the common myth that African Americans are the predominant users of crack.

We are not. Whites make up at least half of the users of crack. Only about one out of three crack users are black.

To many, that finding was so out of line with the public perception of blacks being the main users of crack, they discounted the results. They shouldn’t. Whites are the predominant users of all of the major illegal drugs.

The survey found that over six out of ten powdered cocaine users are white, slightly less than one out of four were black and about one out of seven were Hispanic. Whites are also the major users of marijuana and heroin; three out of four users of those drugs are white.

The real story behind the drug use statistics is that whites may lead the parade of users but, when it comes to facing the federal judge and looking out from behind those bars, whites are far back.

Whites are 62% of the powdered cocaine users but only 33% of the defendants in federal courts. Hispanics lead with 40% of the powdered cocaine defendants who appear before federal judges.

Over nine out of ten crack defendants before federal judges are black, and blacks are only 34% of the crack users. Whites are 50% of the users but make up only a minuscule 3% of those facing federal judges on crack offenses.

It is hard to believe that so many whites are using crack and so few white hustlers are in the distribution chain making money off those white users. For powdered cocaine, whites make up about 62% of the users and about half that percentage, 33%, of those facing the judge.

That ratio makes sense. The crack ratio for whites of 50% of the users and 3% of those facing the judge doesn’t make sense, if there is any fairness in the drug enforcement apparatus.

Those numbers make it hard to believe that the federal drug enforcement process is doing what they say they are doing — going after the big dealers in the illegal drug business. In the illegal drug distribution chain, crack dealers are at the two lowest steps in that chain.

Making crack is so simple that it doesn’t make sense to cook up hundreds of pounds of crack to distribute. A big solid block is hard to handle and hard to hide. That same amount of powder is easy to handle and easy to hide.

Making crack from powdered cocaine is so simple that elementary school drop outs can do it. Crack is made by taking some powdered cocaine, mixing it with baking soda and water, and then putting the dissolved cocaine in the microwave or on the stove top and boiling it until the liquid is gone.

The residue is crack. Your next door neighbor may be cooking up a bit now. It is easy to go from powdered cocaine to crack.

That’s why you never see pictures or tv scenes where the law enforcement officers are standing by a big load of crack they have just found by being so smart and clever as they do with the other drugs.

The drug seizures the feds make is testimony to that fact. I looked at a U. S. Department of Justice report that listed drug seizures. It reported that “12 tons of cocaine was found in twelve 55-gallon drums of guava pulp,” “190 pounds of heroin were found in a washing machine,” and, get this, “crack concealed in a box of Cheese Nips were seized in a Greyhound bus station.”

Incidentally, that was the only mention that 200-page report, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, made of finding crack. Large blocks of crack don’t exist; that’s why you don’t see media reports with pictures of major crack finds.

Yet, there are more people arrested for trafficking in crack than there are for any of the major drugs, and the sentencing for trafficking in crack is much stiffer than it is for any other drug, including the powdered form of the crack drug, cocaine.

The illegal drug business is a mass-marketed illegal business where big money comes from getting little bits from lots of people. And to make that work, intrusion can’t be tolerated.

Since the business is illegal, the police and the courts can’t be appealed to stop the intrusion. That’s where muscle, guns and street battles all combine to make for some dead bodies that stirs up the citizenry.

The early battles over market share in the crack trade so inflamed the public that draconian sentencing for crack trafficking became law. The market share battles seem to be over, in the main.

But, its residue, draconian sentencing and the focus on the last end of the crack distribution chain is still with us.

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