Belmont Law Review


This Note analyzes the MDMA drug equivalency ratio under the current Guidelines and argues that the ratio is based on incomplete and inaccurate information. Part I of this Note provides an overview of the United States Sentencing Commission (“the Commission”) and the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“the Guidelines”). Part II discusses the rise of MDMA and the legislative response. It also summarizes the Commission’s findings regarding the social and physiological harms of MDMA that formed the basis for the Commission’s decision about the appropriate MDMA drug equivalency ratio. Part III examines the errors in the Commission’s empirical analysis of the harms of MDMA, and in its comparison of the social harms of MDMA to the social harms of other drugs. It also reviews the currently-unresolved federal district court split over whether to defer to the MDMA drug equivalency ratio set forth in the Guidelines. Finally, Part IV calls for a prompt reevaluation of the current MDMA-to-marijuana drug equivalency ratio. This Note concludes that a reevaluation of the MDMA drug equivalency ratio is necessary to ensure horizontal sentencing uniformity, to prevent inefficient use of judicial resources, and to ensure that defendants’ sentences are sufficient but not greater than necessary, as required by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2).