U.S. Anabolic Steroid Punishments Increased!

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has published notice of temporary “emergency” (i.e., immediate) amendments to the federal anabolic steroid sentencing guidelines. Henceforth, injectable and oral steroids will be quantified for punishment in a 1:1 ratio to other Schedule III drugs, resulting in a twenty-fold measurement increase for injectable steroid units and a fifty-fold increase for oral steroid units.  One “unit” of an oral steroid is now one pill, tablet or capsule.  One “unit of a liquid steroid is now 0.5ml.  Steroids in other forms (“e.g., patch, topical cream, aerosol”) will be reasonably estimated based on a consideration of 25mg as one unit. Additionally, sentencing enhancements will apply in cases involving distribution to “athletes” or where coaches use their positions to influence athletes to use steroids, as well as in cases involving “masking agents.” While likely to impact dealers more than personal users, the new 1:1 ratio nonetheless ignores fundamental differences between steroid usage and volume patterns as compared to other Schedule III drugs. Other problems with the amendments include the lack of any reference to potency in oral or injectable steroids, potentially leading to black market adaptations to circumvent the amendment (e.g., the creation of high potency “mega-pills”), as well as the lack of any knowledge requirement involving distribution (e.g., via the Internet) to unidentified customers who may turn out to be athletes. It is expected that the revisions will be made permanent by Congress in November.