Before the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in the United States in 2010, possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine, or 500 grams of powder cocaine, constituted a felony offense—a 100-to-1 disparity. After the passage of the act, possession of 28 grams of crack cocaine constituted a felony offense (or 500 grams of power cocaine, as before)—an 18-to-1 disparity.
Disparities in the treatment of crack and powder cocaine are frequently talked about as being racially motivated, I suppose because black drug users favor crack cocaine and white drug users favor powder cocaine (or at least, the groups are thought to favor the respective drugs; I have no data).
Obviously, no one is going to justify the disparity between crack and powder cocaine on racial grounds. What are the arguments in favor of the current 18-to-1 disparity in the law? Does crack have a greater psychotropic effect per gram? Is there a difference in price, which the law is trying to compensate for?