Holding: A federal sentencing court must determine whether an offense under state law is a serious drug offense by consulting the maximum term of imprisonment applicable to a defendant's prior state drug offense at the time of the defendant's conviction for that offense, rather than looking to state law at the time of the defendant's federal sentencing.
Plain English Holding: A federal statute imposes higher sentences for federal defendants who have previously been convicted of a serious drug offense. Whether a prior offense counts as a serious drug offense is determined by looking at the longest sentence that the defendant could have received when he was convicted, even if the defendant would have received a lower sentence later.
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