My state legislature

What a bunch of half-wits. Starting this Saturday, January 1, Tennessee gets stupider. This seems to happen every time a bucket of new laws goes into effect. This one is particularly rich, however.

State to tax illegal drugs

Come the new year, the tax man is coming after drug dealers in Tennessee.

Drug peddlers will be required to pay state excise taxes on illegal substances — from marijuana to moonshine, from cocaine to the often illegally obtained prescription painkiller OxyContin — under a new law that goes into effect Saturday.

In short, Tennessee is going to somehow tax drug dealers. That’s right, all those south Memphis crack dealers, East Nashville smack peddlers and UT athletic dorm dope distributors will have to either voluntarily pay takes on their earnings or pay a fine when they finally get caught.

How will the revenue actually be collected?

Drug dealers can go to any of the state revenue offices within 48 hours of coming into possession of unauthorized substances. They pay the tax and get a ”stamp” to put on the drugs showing they have paid up. They would not be required to give their name, address, Social Security number or other identifying information. State tax collectors would be constrained by taxpayer privacy laws from reporting them to police. Still, state officials say voluntary payment is unlikely to happen often.

That’s going to happen.

The most probable way the tax will be collected is when police make drug busts. Law enforcement agencies are required to call tax officials within 48 hours detailing the drugs found.

While this new law will probably raise your average drug dealer’s cost of doing business (the ones careless enough to get busted, that is), it is a shining example of the complete lack of logic inherent in our state legislature. Additionally, once these hayseed politicians get dollar signs in their eyes, they’ll buy into any new revenue scheme, no matter how far-fetched.

The mixed message the state sends is:

Drugs are bad. Don’t do drugs. Don’t sell drugs. Although, if you’re going to sell drugs, please voluntarily pay taxes on your profits. In fact, if you’re going to sell drugs, sell an assload of them, so that we can really rake in the revenue from your entrepreneurial efforts.

How has this law worked in North Carolina, the state with the model we’re following?

Tennessee joins at least 22 other states in taxing illegal drugs. Its law was modeled after North Carolina’s, which has collected $83 million in the 14 years it has been on the books, said Laura Lansford, assistant director of that state’s Unauthorized Substances Tax Division. Last fiscal year, the drug tax brought in $8.5 million, and $4.9 million since July 1, she said.

Of the 72,000 taxpayers North Carolina has assessed, only 79 people voluntarily bought stamps, she said.

What the hell were those 79 people thinking? They must have been stoned when they voluntarily bought tax stamps. Let’s hope they didn’t use a personal check to pay for them.

The state legislature needs to drop the charade and legalize marijuana if they want to create real tax revenue. It’s Tennessee’s number 1 or 2 cash crop – I can’t remember which, but it’s way up there. If you want tax revenue, legalize it, regulate it and fill your government coffers with more cash, that you will no doubt squander just as you do the taxpayer funds you already confiscate.

Is it too much to expect some honesty from these politicians?

Oh yeah, they’re politicians. Of course it is.


  1. Pingback: Say Anything
  2. You know it does sound pretty stupid, but you need to look back a bit and it makes some sense. If you recall Al Capone was not ever convicted of murder or the like, he was busted for what, Tax Evasion. That’s right folks, while it may raise some money it is also another way to bust dope dealers at the state level.

  3. I do recall that about Capone and you make a good point. However, I believe this particular law is more about revenue generation and less about law enforcement – but I could be mistaken (*gasp*). Maybe I am being a little hard on the legislature, but it’s not like they haven’t earned it, the bastards.

  4. Oh, hell no you are not being to hard on the legislature. They are a bunch of thieving bastards. I was only pointing out that it may have more than one purpose.

  5. “Its law was modeled after North Carolina’s, which has collected $83 million in the 14 years it has been on the books”

    It was later revealed that it only costs them $20 million a year in overhead to collect the tax.

  6. The days of Capone are long gone and while a good point to make I don’t see this being the reason for the new laws – – I have to agree with Preston that it’s about the bucks and not so much about law enforcement.

    I’m curious about the $83 million Digger mentioned – – how many arrests went along with that?

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