Tax it and don’t legalize it

I linked to this in the sidebar, but it’s so amusing I decided to put it here on the main page as well. Apparently Tennessee has decided that just because drugs are illegal, that’s no reason not to tax them. They are now subject to the Unauthorized Substances Tax, 75% of which is used to fight the drug war. The tax must be payed within forty-eight hours of receiving an illegal substance and is supposedly anonymous. But just to clarify…

8. If I purchase stamps, will I then be in legal possession of the drugs?

No, purchasing stamps only fulfills your civil tax obligation. You will still be subject to the criminal statutes of Tennessee for possessing the drugs.

Read the whole FAQ. It’s surreal. Thanks to non-blogging Julian for the tip.

[Update: In the comments, Drug WarRant blogger Pete Guither points out that these kind of laws aren’t uncommon and some have been struck down as a form of a double jeopardy. He also duly notes that, like so many other absurdities in the drug war, it’s not so amusing when these laws are used to strip people of their property. See his 2004 blog post for more.]


2 thoughts on “Tax it and don’t legalize it”

  1. There are a number of states that have had drug tax stamps and some are quite entertaining. Most are sold to collectors.

    Of course, the whole concept behind this is another way to seize the property of drug dealers. They don’t expect anyone to pay the tax — they enforce it (plus penalties) when you’re busted. If you’ve got enough drugs (particularly if you’re growing), the drug taxes could take your house and everything else you own, along with the criminal penalties.

    That makes it a whole lot less amusing.

    At least one state stopped doing it when their state supreme court found it to be a kind of double jeopardy. Other states have found it constitutional.

  2. That’s truly messed up. Are dealers required to pay the sales tax as well? What would happen if you reported revenue from drug sales on your income tax return?

Comments are closed.