An appeals court in Tennessee has ruled the state’s tax on illegal drugs unconstitutional calling it “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
I’ve mentioned the Tennessee Tax before and I’ve talked about the whole notion of state illegal drug taxes several times.
In case this is new to you, the idea is that the state requires you to purchase a stamp for your illegal drugs (sort of like the state stamp on cigarette packages, but an actual stamp). You’re supposed to affix this to your illegal drugs to show that you’ve paid your tax. Of course, the real intent of the law is nothing of the kind. What they do is after they’ve arrested you for drug possession, they weigh the drugs, figure out how much tax you should have paid and then seize that amount of money/possessions/house from you and then still prosecute you for drug possession. It’s really just another way to have the government rob people, and part of the despicable drug war tactics of “piling on.”
About the only ones who actually purchase drug stamps are stamp collectors or those looking at them as novelty items. I have Tennessee (unauthorized substances), North Carolina (marijuana), Utah (marijuana), Texas (marijuana), and Massachusetts (marijuana) stamps, and would love to add to my collection….
Wisconsin’s drug tax law was rendered unconstitutional several years ago by a federal appeals court saying it amounting to double jeopardy.
In the Tennessee case, Judge Sharon G. Lee wrote:
“Because it seeks to levy a tax on the privilege to engage in an activity that the Legislature has previously declared to be a crime, not a privilege, we must necessarily conclude that the drug tax is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable, and therefore, invalid under the constitution of this state,”
This is good news, and I hope that the drug tax will be challenged elsewhere.
Of course, there’s one way that the drug tax stamp would get my support.
As Ben Masel famously said:
No taxation without legalization.
Update: SayUncle isn’t holding his breath regarding any actual changes as a result of the ruling.