What are mandatory minimum sentences? A mandatory minimum sentence is a minimum number of years, typically 5- or 10-years in prison, that must be served when a person is convicted of a particular crime. Mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes are based on the amount. In some cases, the differences may have been a result of racial prejudice or favoritism. After many years of debate, Congress in 1984 created a commission to create a system of sentencing that would be applied the same way by federal judges around the country. In response to some of the criticism in 1994 Congress enacted a "safety-valve" provision permitting relief from mandatory minimums for certain non-violent, first-time drug offenders. More on mandatory minimums from the Families Against Mandatory Minimums web site. Different drugs have different set quantities that trigger a specific minimum sentence. Type of drug Five Year Sentence Without Parole Ten Year Sentence Without Parole. LSD 1 gram 10 grams Marijuana 100 plants/1 plants/1000 kilos Crack cocaine 5 grams 50 grams Powder cocaine 500 grams. How does conspiracy law work? In 1988 Congress passed another, pre-election Anti-Drug Law. One of the provisions was urged by the Department of Justice to simply close a little loophole. The change was to apply the mandatory sentences of 1986, intended for high level traffickers. Sentencing Commission Read more on "substantial assistance" in "The Informant Trap an article by Mark Curriden from the National Law Journal. Read a summary of a January 1998 study published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission evaluating the current use of the substantial assistance provision. Section 5K1.1 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines allows a judge to grant a lower sentence to a defendant whom the prosecutor says has given substantial assistance. Over the last 5 years nearly a third of the people sentenced in drug trafficking cases in the federal. For many years in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, many people who looked at the justice system were concerned that different federal judges gave very different sentences to people who committed very similar crimes. This might be because the judges were in different parts of.