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procedures lhal purify ihe drug to the point where it dries in separate crystals. The more often this cleaning procedure is repeated, the purer the product obtained. Illicit flake lias been tested as high as 95-percent pure. Pharmaceutical coke, which must be at least 99-percent pure, is always flake.

What comes into the country usually arrives as pure as it left the refinery. But by the time most of it reaches the retail buyer, it has been adulterated with one or more sugar, salt, and local anesthetic cuts. There are a number of ways to detect these cuts, but for the average buyer one of the better commercially available testing kits is the surest method. Dealers also have the habit, of reconstituting the cut product into rocks and passing them off as pure cocaine. When shaved with a razor, the crystalline structure of genuine rock is readily apparent. . Reconstituted rock tends to crumble and reveals no crystalline structure.

The buyer cheated by a dealer can't lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Like the dealer, he is a criminal subject to penalties almost too unpleasant to contemplate. And nothing better reflects the absurdity of our drug laws than cocaine's current legal status. It neither leads to addiction nor to violent behavior, but under federal and state laws it is treated as an especially dangerous drug. Listed alongside Methedrine and other non-narcotics for descriptive purposes, for penalty purposes it is classified a narcotic. The practical result is thai selling meth can get you 5 years in a federal penitentiary and selling coke, a far less potent stimulant, can get you 15 years. Under New York Stale's law, the discrepancy is even more blatant.. The maximum first-offense penalty for selling meth is 7 years; for selling coke, mandatory llfe-the same as for murder, and considerably more than for rape.

The miso]assification and misunderstanding of cocaine that permits-indeed, insists upon-sucli inequities is being challenged in ihe courts. And in December 1976, Judge El wood McKinney of the Municipal Court of Roxbury, Massachusetts, dedared the state's cocaine regulations unconstitutional. His opinion is now being appealed. Whatever the outcome, however, the decriminalization of cocaine is not likely lo proceed at a rapid pace.

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