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UNITED STATES v. CASTRO
February 12, 1975
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.
The defendant herein, Jose Castro, is charged with
distribution of 19 grams of cocaine in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The defendant has moved to dismiss the indictment
against him contending that cocaine has been arbitrarily and
irrationally classified as a narcotic drug for penalty
purposes, thereby exposing him to a harsher maximum penalty
than prescribed for medically comparable drugs listed in
21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B), in violation of the constitutional
guarantees to due process, equal protection, and freedom from
cruel and unusual punishment. While we find defendant's
challenge to the pharmacological basis of Congress'
classification of cocaine as a narcotic drug to be persuasive,
we do not find that the penalty classification is so devoid of
rationality, or so offensive to the concept of equal justice as
to warrant our overturning the statute. For the reasons set
forth hereinafter, defendant's motion to dismiss will be
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of
1970 (1970 Drug Act), 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., establishes five
schedules of controlled substances. The substances are grouped
according to their potential for abuse, their medical
usefulness, and the consequences of their use, 21 U.S.C. § 812.
Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II substance for regulatory
purposes based upon the following criteria:
(A) The drug or other substance has a high
potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently
accepted medical use in treatment in the United
States or a currently accepted medical use with
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may
lead to severe psychological or physical
Those controlled substances listed in Schedules I and II of
the 1970 Drug Act designated as narcotic drugs are grouped
together under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) for penalty purposes.
The statutory definition of a narcotic drug is contained in
21 U.S.C. § 802(16), which provides in relevant part:
The term "narcotic drug" means any of the
following, whether produced directly or indirectly
by the extraction from substances of vegetable
origin, or independently by means of chemical
synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and
(A) Opium, coca leaves, and opiates.
(B) A compound, manufacture, salt, derivative,
or preparation of opium, coca leaves, or
(C) A substance . . . which is chemically
identical with any of the substances referred to
in clause (A) or (B).
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