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December 2003
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Missouri considering drug stamp tax

Senator Proposes Taxing Illegal Drugs. This isn’t particularly new – 23 states have similar stupid laws.

Each gram of marijuana would be subject to a $3.50 tax. Other controlled substances would be taxed $200 for each gram or portion of a gram. For drugs not sold by weight, such as Ecstasy, every 50 doses would be taxed $2,000.

A picture named drugtaxstamps.jpg
Note: for those of you who haven’t converted to metric yet, for marijuana that’s about $100 tax per ounce.
Keep in mind that this is not an easing of penalties — it is adding an additional penalty on top of criminalizing drugs. The idea is, once you’re arrested for possession of drugs, not only do you get the jail time and fines for the charge, but they also go after you for tax evasion because you probably haven’t bought the stamps (they don’t really expect you to).

A similar bill was passed in Kansas in 1987. Last year it collected $883,846 in revenue from people arrested in possession of drugs without stamps and $370 in stamp sales.

Most drug tax stamps are purchased by collectors, not drug dealers (the Texas one is quite entertaining).
These taxes are really a kind of dishonesty on the part of legislatures. If you want a tougher penalty for something illegal, then make that part of the legal penalty — don’t go around looking for some other hook.
Many of these taxes have run into legal trouble. Some of them have been termed unconstitutional due to the prohibition against self-incrimination. Others, if providing a serious enough penalty, have been determined to constitute double jeopardy (some Texas drug dealers in 1996 were getting off of their drug charges in court by putting a deposit down on their tax liability).
For now, those in St. Joseph, Missouri may want to spread the word that Republican Senator Charlie Shields wants to raise taxes. That could make it interesting.
Earlier this year, TalkLeft reported on a similar tax in Iowa. Protesters of the tax came up with the memorable line:

No taxation without legalization.

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