American Culture

Hide your bong: New York to tax illegal drug sales

The governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, has decided to raise $13 million for his proposed $124.3 billion budget by requiring your local purveyors of illegal drugs to affix state tax stamps to your nickel bag of horse or the fixings for your evening speedball.

His administration says the program will enhance enforcement and tracking of illegal drug sales. Riiight. That surly-looking fellow slouching on the street corner each night will be sure to run right down to the state Department of Taxation and Finance to buy those tax stamps. Surely that will make law enforcement happy, eh? Good for the fuzz to know who’s selling the fuel for your bong, right?

But, says The Buffalo News:

Secrecy provisions in the bill generally prohibit using information obtained from drug dealers in any criminal prosecution, unless it is obtained independently. The information could be used, however, in a criminal or civil proceeding involving taxes.

Say what? The governor expects crack dealers to buy stamps to put on packets of illegal drugs — but cops can’t use that information to ID and arrest them? What’s the Guv been smoking? All this to raise one tenth of 1 percent of his proposed budget?

This bad idea isn’t new. Arizona hatched such a scheme in 1983. Nearly 30 states followed with drug taxes of their own. Gov. Spitzer’s administration, says The News, “contends it also can obtain revenues when illegal drugs are confiscated and dealers are forced to pay taxes if they do not have stamps on the drugs.”

Arizona repealed its law. It seems, says a tax-stamp reseller:

The authorities in Arizona arrested a fellow who was selling marijuana, and he had a license and had put the tax stamps on his “product”. A judge decided that if the state sold him a license, they shouldn’t arrest him for selling the product so licensed. So he dismissed the charges against the fellow.

If you’re drug dealer in New York, be prepared to face increased costs of doing business trafficking in illegal drugs. Gov. Spitzer wants you to cough up $3.50 per gram on marijuana and $200 per gram on drugs like heroin to buy tax stamps.

If you’re an overtaxed resident of New York, as I am, you can continue to marvel at the lunacy of government in our fair state.

7 replies »

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  2. I’m not sure of this, but I think the Feds have always had a tax stamp program for marijuana leaves, cocaine, and opium. I know the program existed through the mid 80’s, but don’t know if it still exists. The feds still have a federal tax gaming stamp for illegal bookies, and professional gamblers.


  3. If you go to buy the tax stamps, does that constitute waiving your 5th Amendment right?

    And i don’t know about the other drugs, but i think that Jeff is right; to the best of my knowledge, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act has never been repealed. You know, Henry Ford would have been making car bodies out of hemp if not for that act…