Amendment: The Commentary to §2D1.1 captioned “Application Notes” is amended in Note 10(D) in the subdivision captioned “Cocaine and Other Schedule I and II Stimulants (and their immediate precursors)” by inserting after the entry relating to N-N-Dimethylamphetamine the following new entry:
“1 gm of N-Benzylpiperazine = 100 gm of marihuana”.
Reason for Amendment: This amendment responds to concerns raised by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and others regarding the sentencing of offenders convicted of offenses involving BZP (N-Benzylpiperazine), which is a Schedule I stimulant. See United States v. Figueroa, 647 F.3d 466 (2d Cir. 2011). The amendment establishes a marijuana equivalency for BZP offenses in the Drug Equivalency Table provided in Application Note 10(D) in §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking (Including Possession with Intent to Commit These Offenses); Attempt or Conspiracy). The marijuana equivalency established by the amendment provides that 1 gram of BZP equals 100 grams of marijuana.
Prior to the amendment, the Drug Equivalency Table did not include a marijuana equivalency for BZP. As a result, in offenses involving BZP, the court determined the base offense level using the marijuana equivalency of “the most closely related controlled substance” referenced in §2D1.1. See §2D1.1, comment. (n. 5). In determining the most closely related controlled substance, the commentary directs the court to consider (1) whether the controlled substance not referenced in §2D1.1 has a chemical structure that is substantially similar to a controlled substance that is referenced in §2D1.1, (2) whether the controlled substance not referenced in §2D1.1 has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect similar to a controlled substance referenced in the guideline, and (3) whether a lesser or greater quantity of the controlled substance not referenced in §2D1.1 is needed to produce a substantially similar effect as a controlled substance that is referenced in §2D1.1.
In applying these factors, courts have reached different conclusions regarding which controlled substance referenced in §2D1.1 is most closely related to BZP and have therefore used different marijuana equivalencies in sentencing BZP offenders. The Commission’s review of case law and sentencing data indicate that some district courts have found that the controlled substance most closely related to BZP is amphetamine and used the marijuana equivalency for amphetamine, see United States v. Major, 801 F. Supp. 2d 511, 514 (E.D. Va. 2011) (using the marijuana equivalency for amphetamine at full potency), while other district courts have found that the controlled substance most related to BZP is MDMA, but at varying potencies. See United States v. Bennett, 659 F.3d 711, 715–16 (8th Cir. 2011) (affirming a district court’s use of the marijuana equivalency for MDMA at full potency); United States v. Rose, 722 F. Supp. 2d 1286, 1289 (M.D. Ala. 2010) (concluding that BZP is most closely related to MDMA, but imposing a variance to reflect BZP’s reduced potency compared to MDMA). The different findings of which controlled substance is the most closely related to BZP, and the application of different potencies of those controlled substances, have resulted in courts imposing vastly different sentence lengths for the same conduct.
The Commission reviewed scientific literature and received expert testimony and comment relating to BZP and concluded that BZP is a stimulant with pharmacologic properties similar to that of amphetamine, but is only one-tenth to one-twentieth as potent as amphetamine, depending on the particular user’s history of drug abuse. Accordingly, in order to promote uniformity in sentencing BZP offenders and to reflect the best available scientific evidence, the amendment establishes a marijuana equivalency of 1 gram of BZP equals 100 grams of marijuana. This corresponds to one-twentieth of the marijuana equivalency for amphetamine, which is 1 gram of amphetamine equals 2 kilograms (or 2,000 grams) of marijuana.
Effective Date: The effective date of this amendment is November 1, 2012.