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Tax Illegal Drugs? That's the Plan to Bust N.Y. Deficit


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It requires our elected officials to keep on the lookout for new things to tax. That gets more difficult every year, because there's not much that isn't taxed except the air we breathe. ( Sources tell me the state is working on that, basing the tax on the size of your schnoz ).

So it comes as no surprise that Gov. Eliot Spitzer wants to tax illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana.

I kid you not. I read it in the Jan. 24 edition of The New York Times. Spitzer hopes the tax will reduce the state's estimated $4.4 million budget deficit.

There are 29 other states that tax illegal drugs and moonshine, mostly Southern states. New York wants to join them or risk being labeled one of the states that refuses to pass really stupid tax laws.

If the governor's plan becomes law, New York will tax a commodity that nobody is supposed to possess, which raises the question: What are they smoking in Albany?

Here's how the plan would work: Illegal drug dealers would anonymously apply for tax stamps -- like those on cigarette packs. The stamps would cost $3.50 per gram for marijuana and $200 per gram for other drugs. The dealer would stick the stamps on his bag of marijuana or vials of crack to prove he paid his taxes on illegal drugs when the cops bust down his door and confiscate his stash.

A similar arrest occurred to a Tennessee man who was slapped with an $11,506 tax bill and penalties after he was caught going into a concert with marijuana-laced Rice Krispie Treats that didn't have the required tax stamps. The defendant, like any good pothead, argued in court that he should have been taxed only for the weight of the pot, not the weight of the Rice Krispies and marshmallows in his snap, crackle and pop pot treats.

Tax officials admit that few, if any, drug users will apply for the tax stamps. The levy is really a way for states to seize drug money in drug raids. Police not only confiscate a dealer's pot, but then fine him for back taxes on the grass.

Don't assume that drug users won't apply for the stamps. People do strange things while high, like the Elmira man who went to police headquarters to report that the guy who lives in the apartment above him had broken into his apartment and ripped him off. When police asked the complainant what was stolen, he replied: "A pound of my pot. And it was good s--t. I want the dude arrested, and I want my pot back."

So it's not hard to image the following conversation between a pothead and a tax official:

Pothead: "Sup my man? I got some good herb and I need to get one of those . . . um . . . err . . . I forget what they're called."

Tax stamp official: "They're called tax stamps?"

Pothead: "Who taxes stamps? I don't want no stamps, dude. I ain't got no letter to mail. But I am hungry. You got any Rice Krispie Treats?"

They say illegal drug dealing is one of the biggest businesses in America. It's time drug dealers pay their fair share of taxes.

As for the confiscated pot, the state should turn around and sell it on the free market, make lots of money and earn carbon credits for recycling.

Better yet, legalize marijuana and tax the hell out of it like we do with cigarettes. New York would not only pay off its deficit, but be flush with a $1 billion surplus.

Or course we would have to give the potheads their due deductions on their income tax forms on the line marked: "rolling papers, scales and baggies."

Source: Star-Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2008 Star-Gazette
Contact: opinion@stargazette.com
Website: Star-Gazette.COM - Home
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