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Drug Stamp Tax

Updated on March 15, 2015

While interning at MPP in the past week I posted an article concerning a drug stamp tax. Reading the article I came to understand that about thirty states impose taxes on illegal drugs like marijuana. What marijuana distributors and users are supposed to do is anonymously file a form indicating how many grams of the illegal drug they have. They are then taxed so much for each gram, and printed a stamp for each gram. These stamps are then supposed to be placed on their bags, boxes, containers, etc. of the illegal drug to certify that they have paid the drug stamp tax. However, if an individual chooses not to pay this tax he suffers no consequences, that is, unless he is busted. If a drug distributor or user is arrested for any number of drug charges in a state that has a drug stamp tax and the distributor or user did not pay the tax, the distributor or user is then fined for not paying the tax.

In my post entitled “Exchanging Violence For Violence” I was trying to capture the conflict between outlawing something, yet then relying on it while it is outlawed. However, it is also applicable in a much broader sense, for example identifying something as vicious, yet then relying on it. Unfortunately, I do not think I understood the conflict as well as I thought I did; therefore, I do not think I explained it that well. However, by learning about the drug stamp tax, I think I understand it more fully and thus can explain it more efficiently.

In several previous posts I have explained the problems with taxing and criminalizing drugs; consequently, I will not explain them here. However, just know when the government combines the criminalization of drugs and taxes on those illegal drugs, like with this drug stamp tax, the government is combining two vicious acts and contradicting its purpose twice over. More importantly, however, the drug stamp tax shows a contradiction in the government’s opposition to drugs. The government claims it does not want to legalize drugs. The government claims drugs are vicious and need to be eradicated. However, thirty states are charging taxes on these vicious and illegal substances that need to be eradicated. The government is gaining funds through the existence of these illegal substances. Clearly, the government wants these substances to exist so that it can collect money. While it says that drugs should be eradicated it is relying on them. The same goes for tobacco. The government’s stance is that tobacco is bad, vicious, evil, and that people should stop using it. They have banned tobacco television ads and imposed warnings on the tobacco packages. However, the government charges an outrageous tax on tobacco products. Once again, while the government claims tobacco should be eradicated it relies on it. The government does not want to eliminate tobacco, or drugs. If drugs were legalized the government would obviously impose an enormous tax on it, not because it thought the tax would eliminate drugs. That has failed for several years with tobacco. The government would impose a tax on drugs in order to sustain its existence.

If the government really thought drugs and tobacco were so evil that they should not even exist, the government would not leech itself onto them. The government would not freeload on the success of drugs and tobacco. That is like saying, “Oh, I hate the Nazis. I think Nazis are vicious and should not exist,” yet the person goes to Nazi owned museums stocked with works stolen from Jews. If one believes something is wrong, he cannot then rely on it. That is a moral compromise. That is vicious. I do not believe any example makes that more clear than a drug stamp tax on drugs that the government declares illegal.


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