Marijuana Tax Stamps
A little history - Marijuana started to
come into the United States in the
1920s along with Mexican immigrants. These immigrants grew marijuana which
cause some concern among people in the vicinity of where they worked. This
is why some of the first anti-marijuana laws, occurred in, places, such as
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan.
In the early 1930s, when the Great Depression hit, people started to fear
these Mexican immigrants to the point people actually tried to get them to
go back to Mexico. Mexican immigrants were thought to be undercutting
Americans for jobs, plus it was widely thought that these people were taking
marijuana, into town on the weekends, and introducing the population to
marijuana convincing people to try it. The average American in the 30's felt
these drug users were the reason for many of the criminal problems in their
cities. Even researchers, who were rational about most things thought
marijuana use, was a very serious problem back then.
Marijuana Tax stamps came about because a law that was devised by Congress
the "Marihuana Tax Act of 1937" doctors, dentists and other legitimate
users to register and pay an annual license fee of $1 to $24. believe it or
not professionals were not the only people who could register and receive a
license that would legitimize the use of marijuana, Recreational users or
"drug users" as they were called back then were required to pay a $100 tax
on every ounce of marijuana - or face 5 years in prison and a stiff fine.
The use of Marijuana Tax Stamps was valid from 1937 until 1969. During those
33 years, but because of the extremely stringent government regulations it
took the average person to obtain a tax stamp it was nearly impossible to
get. The Marijuana Tax Stamps that were issued eventually found their way
into private collections and are so scarce most stamp collectors don't even
know they exist.
You have to realize wages back then averaged only .40 (Forty cents) an hour
which was only $832.00 a month. So In 1937, a $100 tax was extremely
expensive - equal to well over $3,000.00 in today's economy. And those who
did want to abide by the law faced two more hurdles. Personal information
required on the stamp receipt was given to local law enforcement
authorities, putting the applicant at risk of arrest for drug possession
under state laws. Plus the stamps were almost impossible to buy.
In 1969 Professor Timothy Leary challenged the Marijuana Tax law. The U.S.
Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional on the grounds that the
information required on the tax stamp receipt violated the right of
protection from self-incrimination. In his written opinion, Justice Harlan
noted that the Supreme Court couldn't find a single application for the $100
Today, Marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in the world.
It's also the most controversial. According to the National Survey on Drug
Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 96.8 million (40.2%) Americans ages 12
and older have tried marijuana at least once during their lifetimes. About
25.5 million (10.6%) people reported past year marijuana use, and 14.6
million (6.1%) people reported past month use. So it is not surprising that
tens of thousands of current marijuana users express a similar view over the
selective and inappropriate enforcement of illicit drug taxes.
Similar to the laws of 1937 anyone in possession of marijuana or other
illegal drugs are required by law to purchase and affix state-issued stamps
onto his or her contraband. The cost of the tax is normally determined by
the quantity of contraband the person is registering. The funny thing about
these tax stamps even though the sale and possession of marijuana is
illegal, drug tax stamp laws primarily assess financial penalties on the
defendant for noncompliance and in some cases criminal charges can also be
imposed. Remember Al Capone? He was never convicted of killing anyone,
prostitution, assault etc. he was eventually sent to jail because he failed
to pay taxes on his ill found gains.
It is amusing that nearly half of all US states currently have marijuana tax
stamp laws on the books, but few people few citizens observe them or even
know they exist. People that do know of these obscure tax laws fear that by
complying with them it will incriminate them by acknowledging their illegal
use of drugs. Because use of the drug tax stamps are almost nonexistent -
states use the current tax stamp laws to impose an additional penalty - tax
evasion - upon drug offenders after they are arrested and criminally charged
with a drug violation.
Today some states such as Georgia, failure to comply with the state tax law
may result in a misdemeanor. However, in other states such as Minnesota,
failure to comply with the state's drug tax law could get have the offender
facing an additional fine of up to $14,000 and seven years in jail on top of
any related drug charges they may face.