Are they treated differently in the law?
Crack is a freebase form of cocaine that may be smoked. Although crack is essentially the same as cocaine, it can carry far different consequences.
In New York, crack and cocaine are treated the same. In the federal system, however, crack is punished far more than cocaine. For example, a first time offense of possession with the intent to distribute 280 grams of cocaine is punished by up to 20 years in jail with no mandatory minimum, but that same amount of crack carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years to maximum of life in prison.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine, but for now the sentences attached to each are radically different.