Volume 54

Sentencing Synthetic Cannabinoid Offenders: “No Cognizable Basis”

by Brad Gershel

 Application of the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines (“Guidelines”) to smokable synthetic cannabinoids (“SSC”) produces distinct but familiar inequities in the criminal justice system. Calling to mind the crack-to-cocaine disparity that belied the rights of countless defendants, the federal government has yet to rectify a Guidelines rule that was promulgated without scientific basis or empirical support. As prosecutions for SSC accelerate—and in the absence of swift and meaningful reform—federal courts will continue to sentence defendants via a base-offense range that was never justified. 

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