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n. (Chem.) A powerful alkaloid, C17H21NO4, obtained from the leaves of coca. It is a bitter, white, crystalline substance, and is remarkable for producing local insensibility to pain.

Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. Powder cocaine, or cocaine hydrochloride, is generally inhaled through the nose; it may also be mixed with water and injected. See United States Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy 5, 12 (Feb. 1995), available at (hereinafter 1995 Report). (All Internet materials as visited Dec. 7, 2007). Crack cocaine, a type of cocaine base, is formed by dissolving powder cocaine and baking soda in boiling water. Id., at 14. The resulting solid is divided into single-dose “rocks” that users smoke. Ibid. The active ingredient in powder and crack cocaine is the same. Id., at 9. The two forms of the drug also have the same physiological and psychotropic effects, but smoking crack cocaine allows the body to absorb the drug much faster than inhaling powder cocaine, and thus produces a shorter, more intense high. Id., at 15-19.5

Although chemically similar, crack and powder cocaine are handled very differently for sentencing purposes. The ...

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