Iowa Touts Illegal Drug Stamp Tax

Iowa Touts Illegal Drug Stamp Tax
Posted by CN Staff on June 02, 2003 at 23:14:25 PT
By Miranda Leitsinger, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Des Moines, Iowa - Caught with drugs? Better have a drug stamp. Iowa law taxes all illegal drugs - from marijuana to cocaine. The state issues stamps, which vary in cost and color according to the drug, to be affixed to the drug to show the tax has been paid."It was such a horse of a different color when it first came out," said Renee Mulvey, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance. "It was just so unusual to be selling stamps to tax illegal drugs, that we expected a lot of misunderstanding."
The stamps cost $5 a gram for marijuana, $750 per marijuana plant, $250 a gram for other drugs and $400 per 10 doses of drugs that come in tablet form, such as ecstasy. The minimum charge is $215.Some may get a good chuckle out of the idea of drug users trotting down to the revenue department to buy a tax stamp - only seven batches of stamps have been sold (none were sold last year) - but the state is making a small fortune off of those who get caught without them."We look at it as a way to tax the underground economy. Just because something is illegal doesn't mean it shouldn't be taxed," said Pete Bodyk, operations officer for the Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which collected about $1.3 million in drug stamp tax penalties and revenues for fiscal year 2002.Since Iowa enacted its drug tax in 1990, the state has collected nearly $4 million total in penalties and tax revenues.The drug stamp tax came about in the 1980s as the war on drugs was getting underway. In 1983, Arizona was the first state to enact a drug stamp tax, followed by at least 20 others, said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures."It was viewed by those who champion and pass such measures that if you could further stiffen the penalties on drug dealers that you would, again, make it less enticing" to buy or sell drugs, Perez said.In Iowa, failure to affix a drug stamp is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine - for those who aren't habitual offenders. The civil penalty is two times what the person would have paid to get a stamp; interest accrues at 7 percent a year from the day of assessment."We hear all kinds of comments, pro and con, with the drug tax. We view it as a job," said Mulvey, adding that stamp collectors have described the stamps as "homely." The stamps, twice the size of those used on regular mail, come in colors such as burgundy and mustard yellow.Today, 23 states impose a drug stamp tax, but some have had to wrangle with the right of buyers not to incriminate themselves by buying a stamp.In Iowa, it's anonymous."If someone came in and purchased and it was obvious that they were making a purchase to actually put on their drugs, drug containers, we would not" call authorities, which the law prohibits, Mulvey said. "People come in to make a purchase, we keep our mouths shut."From July 2002 through March 2003, agency officials assessed $203,256 in penalties in 11 cases - about a third of the cases they investigated.Generally, the agency only goes after defendants who have assets and are not in prison. Otherwise, the debt would be uncollectable, officials said.One of those 11 cases involved a $119,000 assessment against former Des Moines Area Community College President David England, who pleaded guilty in April to possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and violating Iowa's tax-stamp law. England's wages will be garnisheed for payment, Mulvey said.The state collected as much as $637,635 in taxes and penalties in fiscal year 1994, but the amount has declined since then. Collections were $241,696 last fiscal year.At the same time, state narcotics agents continue to make bigger drug busts every year, such as the $6 million worth of cocaine found hidden in a car stopped along Interstate 80 last January.So, could the state be collecting even more in revenues?Not necessarily, Mulvey said. Budget cuts have hampered collection efforts - and those caught with a large cache of drugs might not be able to pay, she said."Because the street value is so high, does not mean the people have the money to pay the tax. After all, their drugs did not get sold," Mulvey said.There also is some question about whether the agency would be able to collect from someone who was not a resident of Iowa."It's much more difficult to collect tax when the individual is out of state," Mulvey said.Marijuana activist James Getman, who had about $30,000 in savings seized for failing to pay the drug tax, said he agrees with the slogan "no taxation without legalization."He attended "The Greater Mississippi River Valley Tea Party" held in Rock Island, Ill., about 10 years ago to protest the tax."It was like the Boston tea party, we (were) rebelling against an unjust tax," said Getman, director of Iowa Norml, a nonprofit organization supporting the reform of marijuana laws.However, Getman said, the group did not throw marijuana into the river in protest.On the Net: NORML: National Conference of State Legislatures: Department of Revenue and Finance: Associated PressAuthor: Miranda Leitsinger, Associated PressPublished:  Tuesday, June 3, 2003Copyright: 2003 Associated Press Iowa NORMLP.O. Box 2144 Davenport, IA 52809Phone: (563) 386-0099 Contact: James GetmanE-mail: qchemp qconline.comWeb Site: Related Articles:Illegal-Drug Tax Buds Into Profit Debate Whether Drug Tax May Snare
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on June 03, 2003 at 17:12:33 PT
Also, if I remember right,
I read a story a year or so ago from Kansas that indicated they sell the tax stamps mostly to stamp collectors.
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Comment #4 posted by afterburner on June 03, 2003 at 11:06:21 PT:
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937...
was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1969 for the reason that it required self-incrimination which is contrary to Amendment 5 of the Bill of Rights. The petitioner was Timothy Leary. "In the major decision during this period, [in 1969] the United States Supreme Court voided the federal provisions most often employed to prosecute the possessor (buyer) of marijuana. In the first arm of Leary v. United States,2 the Court held that the Fifth Amendment relieves unregistered buyers of any duty to pay the transfer tax and to file the written order form as required by the Marihuana Tax Act.3 The Court reasoned that, since filing such a form would expose a buyer to liability under state law, under the occupational tax provisions of the Tax Act, and perhaps under the marijuana provision of the Import and Export Act,4 the filing provisions violated the fifth amendment guarantees against self-incrimination." -MARIJUANA LEGISLATION CLASHES WITH JUDICIAL SKEPTICISM AND EMERGING VALUES to this victory for the drug law reformers a new law was written in 1970, The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. "Oct 27, 1970 The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defines a scheduling system for drugs and places most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis) in Schedule I.1972 The Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission urged use of cannabis be re-legalized, but their recommendation was ignored. Medical research continues." -marijuana history timeline & marijuana addiction treatment by ..."Accusations of marijuana's addictive powers are also under attack from well-designed research studies. During the Nixon administration (1972), the federal government reviewed existing studies and concluded that marijuana did not possess physically addictive traits. The great majority of articles published in medical journals since that time have agreed. For example, Dr. Jack Henningfield of the Addiction Research Center (part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse) and Dr. Neal Benowits of the University of California ranked heroin, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana in terms of their power to induce psychological dependence. Nicotine was first, marijuana last. Marijuana also ranked last in terms of producing a physical tolerance to the drug, and was deemed least likely to produce signs of withdrawal upon quitting (Schlosser, 1994, p.92)....Regardless of research findings refuting long-held claims about marijuana addiction since 1972, the old arguments of the 1930s continue to be used when establishing new soft drug laws. People's tendency to hold onto their initial beliefs means that most of their knowledge on the topic of marijuana is based on what their parents taught them. While it is the responsibility of all parents to teach their children values, this is not an acceptable basis for creating law." -Prohibition and Marijuana: History Does Repeat (November 1995) the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was unconstitutional in 1969 for violating Amendment 5 of the Bill of Rights, then this new Iowa tax law, the Arizona tax law, and 22 other such state laws are all unconstitutional in 2003. Fight on in the courts. Despite recent setbacks they are our best hope for reasoned reform. If it's really anonyomous, how does the Iowa government know whether or not the stamps have been bought? Why not just buy a bunch of stamps as a preventative measure? Half-baked laws need to be changed: if they want the taxes, they need to re-legalize.ego transcendence follows ego destruction when the courts follow their own oath to Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But the Truth and when law makers start making laws Of The People, By The People, For The People.
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Comment #3 posted by j4c2d0 on June 03, 2003 at 07:58:52 PT
Tax on illegal drugs...isn't that illegal...
seems to me that if a government, be it state or federal taxes something that they themselves call illegal, it would automatically legalize such illegal activities...Iowa'ns otta rejoice because their government has legalized drugs... you just have to pay the price and follow the the same time they are setting an example for the fed's that you can make money, and improve the quality of life at the same time... however I would hope that if the fed's where to ever oneday take this approach, that voters (you and I) would make shure that they don't over charge us...
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Comment #2 posted by Jose Melendez on June 03, 2003 at 07:19:44 PT
Cannabis Prohibition History
I just finished reading adrugwarcarol.comCheck out the Table of Contents:A Drug War Carol - Table of Contents
 PAGE 1 - Outside McCzar's Office 
 PAGE 2 - Inside Scrooge McCzar's Office 
 PAGE 3 - The Cratchets 
PAGE 4 - McCzar - Cratchet
PAGE 5 - McCzar's Townhouse 
PAGE 6 - Anslinger's Ghost 
PAGE 7 - Anslinger's Ghost Confronts
PAGE 8 - Ghosts Of Drug Warriors
PAGE 9 - Prison Infirmary 
PAGE 10 - Chains... 
PAGE 11 - More Ghosts To Come 
PAGE 12 - The Ghost of Christmas
PAGE 13 - Hemp in Centuries Past 
PAGE 14 - Dr. Halsted 
PAGE 15 - Dr. Halsted Kicks His
PAGE 16 - Prelude to the War 
PAGE 17 - William Hamilton Wright 
PAGE 18 - Richmond Pearson
PAGE 19 - Charles Towns 
PAGE 20 - Wright Again 
PAGE 21 - Wright's Downfall 
PAGE 22 - The Harrison Narcotics
PAGE 23 - Harrison Act II - Dr.
PAGE 24 - Richmond Pearson
Hobson Again 
PAGE 25 - Dr. William P. Butler 
PAGE 26 - The Volstead Act and the
PAGE 27 - Servants of Joy 
PAGE 28 - The Duck Hunter 
PAGE 29 - Official Corruption 
PAGE 30 - Drinking Increases 
PAGE 31 - Harry Anslinger and
William Randolph Hearst 
PAGE 32 - Anslinger Continues 
PAGE 33 - The LaGuardia Panel 
PAGE 34 - La Guardia Panel Continues 
PAGE 35 - Boggs, Daniel and Intro Rufus
PAGE 36 - The Law That Wasn't 
PAGE 37 - King & The Joint Committee
PAGE 38 - The King-Anslinger Debates 
PAGE 39 - Tricky Dick 
PAGE 40 - DEA Founded, Carter Elected
PAGE 41 - Bourne's Downfall 
PAGE 42 - Reagan & Asset Forfeiture 
PAGE 43 - Media Frenzy Builds Drug
PAGE 44 - Begin Kerry Wiley Story 
PAGE 45 - Kerry Busted In Malaysia 
PAGE 46 - Grinspoon To The Defense 
PAGE 47 - Grinspoon's Day In Court 
PAGE 48 - Grinspoon Story Part II 
PAGE 49 - Grinspoon Denouement; King
George I 
PAGE 50 - Bill Clinton, Medical
Marijuana Initiatives 
PAGE 51 - Reverberations 
PAGE 52 - Christmas Present 
PAGE 53 - Ghost of Christmas present /
Cratchet makes bail 
PAGE 54 - Cratchet & Tim / Mj In
PAGE 55 - Christmas Present's Final
Warning To Scrooge 
PAGE 56 - Ghost of Christmas Future 
PAGE 57 - Storming McCzar's
PAGE 58 - McCzar's Drug Raid 
PAGE 59 - Drug War neighborhood 
PAGE 60 - It's the Cratchets 
PAGE 61 - McCzar Wakes Up 
PAGE 62 - The Christmas Day Party At
Mcczar's Aunt's House 
PAGE 63 - Final Confrontation With
Anslinger's Ghost 
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on June 03, 2003 at 03:31:50 PT
If Your are going to disobey...
and not love Your brother, there are all kinds of ways to do it.This would tend to make Iowa that much lower than the next scum.
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