United States v. Marshall

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United States v. Marshall
Court US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Date decided July 17, 1990
Appealed from United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois & United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin


Stanley Marshall and his 3 cohorts were convicted in federal court of distributing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

A typical dose of LSD needs to be as little as 0.05 milli grams to have a psychedelic effect on the human subject. A single dose of pure LSD would require a microscope to be seen.

Procedural History

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the statute used to convict the defendants. Marshall was convicted of having distributed over 100 grams of LSD including impurities.

Barbara Brandriff Crabb was one of the trial judges convicting the defendants.


Should a court weigh LSD (which itself is extremely low-weight) or the LSD composite to determine whether the defendants should be sentenced according to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines?


Defendants argued that the statutory interpretation of the trial court didn't make sense.

In 1989, US Senator Joe Biden introduced an amendment to the statute to omit the weight of the carrier medium.


Frank Easterbrook, the Judge of the 7th Circuit, upheld the defendant's 20-year sentence.

Walter J. Cummings Jr., another Judge on the 7th Circuit, dissented.

Richard Posner dissented and said that it is illogical to punish a defendant found to have the one dose of LSD in quart of orange juice more than another defendant with the same one dose of LSD in a pint of orange juice (1 Quart = 2 Pints).


20 years of prison for Marshall is affirmed. Hearing denied.


It's hard to separate LSD from the blotter paper it sits on.


Courts decide on the total weight of cocaine as a mixture.


For phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust) Congress distinguished the pure form of the drug from its mixture.