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July 2004
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Government, upset that marijuana is harmless, tries to make it lethal

Via an anonymous reader (I believe from New Zealand) comes this news about New Zealand spraying herbicide on marijuana plants. Although the herbicide turns the plant blue, some unscrupulous dealers have been apparently spraying them green and selling them.
From AP story

“I have heard stories of people suffering headaches, throat damage and coughing blood. There needs to be proper research but we can’t achieve this until police come clean on the chemicals it (the herbicide) uses,” he said.

The situation made a mockery of the police duty to protect the public, with people’s health being placed at risk by the spray program, he added.

New Zealand Herald:

Waikato police spokeswoman Kris McGehan said the police would not disclose any operational information such as when or how the plants were sprayed.

Ms McGehan said she had not heard of people getting sick from smoking poisoned drugs “but we are probably unlikely to for obvious reasons”.

“If you are going to buy or consume illegal drugs that is the risk you take. Obviously it is a criminal activity that we have no control over.”

This brings back memories of the late 60s/early 70s when the US government was involved in spraying marijuana in Mexico with paraquat.

Harrison Bergeron, the drug company version

Keep the kids doped up and avoid pesky thoughts and feelings. Ritalin, Prozac, and now… From The Independent (via Last One Speaks)

A radical scheme to vaccinate children against future drug addiction is being considered by ministers, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Under the plans, doctors would immunise children at risk of becoming […]

Drug Tax Stamps – bump and update

In the last couple of days, I’ve heard from several people regarding this Kansas revenue page on drug tax stamps.
This isn’t particularly new – 23 states have similar stupid laws (and Kansas has had theirs for 18 years). So I’m recycling a post from December when Missouri was considering such a tax:

Missouri Senator Proposes Taxing Illegal Drugs.

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.

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).
Protesters of an Iowa version of this tax came up with the memorable line:

No taxation without legalization.

If anybody has some drug tax stamps (expired is fine) that they no longer need, I’d love to add some to my stamp collection.
Update: I just got from a reliable source that Ben Masel was responsible for the “No Taxation without Legalization” slogan throughout the midwest, including Iowa.
Also, the 7th Circuit recently struck down Wisconsin’s drug tax stamp law as an unconstitutional double jeopardy. See also Vice Squad.