Amendment: Section 2D1.1(c) is amended in Note (B) of the "*Notes to Drug Quantity Table" by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
"The term ‘Oxycodone (actual)’ refers to the weight of the controlled substance, itself, contained in the pill, capsule, or mixture.".
The Commentary to §2D1.1 captioned "Application Notes" is amended in Note 9 by striking "or " after "amphetamine,"; and by inserting ", or oxycodone" after "methamphetamine".
The Commentary to §2D1.1 captioned "Application Notes" is amended in Note 10, in the Drug Equivalency Tables, in the subdivision captioned "Schedule I or II Opiates*" by striking "1 gm of Oxycodone = 500 gm of marihuana" and inserting "1 gm of Oxycodone (actual) = 6700 gm of marihuana".
Reason for Amendment: This amendment responds to proportionality issues in the sentencing of oxycodone trafficking offenses. Oxycodone is an opium alkaloid found in certain prescription pain relievers such as Percocet and OxyContin. This prescription drug generally is sold in pill form and, prior to this amendment, the sentencing guidelines established penalties for oxycodone trafficking based on the entire weight of the pill. The proportionality issues arise (1) because of the formulations of the different medicines; and (2) because different amounts of oxycodone are found in pills of identical weight.
As an example of the first issue, the drug Percocet contains, in addition to oxycodone, the non-prescription pain reliever acetaminophen. The weight of the oxycodone component accounts for a very small proportion of the total weight of the pill. In contrast, the weight of the oxycodone accounts for a substantially greater proportion of the weight of an OxyContin pill. To illustrate this difference, a Percocet pill containing five milligrams (mg) of oxycodone weighs approximately 550 mg with oxycodone accounting for 0.9 percent of the total weight of the pill. By comparison, the weight of an OxyContin pill containing 10 mg of oxycodone is approximately 135 mg with oxycodone accounting for 7.4 percent of the total weight. Consequently, prior to this amendment, trafficking 364 Percocet pills or 1,481 OxyContin pills resulted in the same five year sentence of imprisonment. Additionally, the total amount of the narcotic oxycodone involved in this example is vastly different depending on the drug. The 364 Percocets produce 1.8 grams of actual oxycodone while the 1,481 OxyContin pills produce 14.8 grams of oxycodone.
The second issue results from differences in the formulation of OxyContin. Three different amounts of oxycodone (10, 20, and 40 mg) are contained in pills of identical weight (135 mg). As a result, prior to this amendment, an individual trafficking in a particular number of OxyContin pills would receive the same sentence regardless of the amount of oxycodone contained in the pills.
To remedy these proportionality issues, the amendment changes the Drug Equivalency Tables in §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking (Including Possession with Intent to Commit These Offenses); Attempt or Conspiracy) to provide sentences for oxycodone offenses using the weight of the actual oxycodone instead of calculating the weight of the entire pill. The amendment equates 1 gram of actual oxycodone to 6,700 grams of marihuana. This equivalency keeps penalties for offenses involving 10 mg OxyContin pills identical to levels that existed prior to the amendment, substantially increases penalties for all other doses of OxyContin, and decreases somewhat the penalties for offenses involving Percocet.
Effective Date: The effective date of this amendment is November 1, 2003.