Tax it, Legalize it!

North Carolina is one of 23 states that have a tax on illegal drugs. I can’t speak to the way the others work, but in North Carolina the tax on illegal drugs is considered a purely civil issue. Thus, you can be acquitted of a drug crime and still be taxed on the drugs. The burden of proof is on the defendant, and the tax can be applied retroactively. Meaning if the state can reasonably demonstrate past drug possessions as well, then the tax can be levied on drugs long come and gone.

A few days ago Darwin Bisping, a pizza delivery man who says he uses marijuana for medicinal purposes, and his housemate in Asheville, N.C., were sent a bill of $88,866 as the tax on the 114 marijuana plants seized from their home this summer. WRAL reported:

The state law specifically says that more than 42.5 grams of marijuana can be taxed at $3.50 per gram.

Bisping and McCart each were taxed on 18,053 grams of marijuana and also were charged $25,274 in penalties and $406 in interest.

Bisping said he uses the drug to calm nerve problems and to help him swallow food after esophagus surgery. He also disputes the weight of the marijuana that was seized.

“This ain’t about justice, this is about money,” he said.

These taxes are ridiculous and hypocritical. Only a quarter of the money raised through this tax goes to education and the other 75% right into the pocket of the arresting agency.That money is probably a nice addition to the cash cow of asset forfeitures they get.When there is this much money on the line for police, is anyone actually surprised when they choose to arrest medical marijuana patients and peaceful suppliers rather than focusing on the dangerous, but less lucrative, criminals? I’m not.

That’s a lot of money for one pot bust. Imagine if all the marijuana growers in North Carolina (there are a lot) paid even half the current tax in order to safely and legally grow marijuana. Police would require fewer resources (probably why they are usually vehemently against decriminalization initiatives), and we could pump a ridiculous amount of money into education, one of the few things proven to actually reduce drug use.

And, you know, allowing people in severe physical pain to alleviate their sufferings without fear of prison; financially crippling, bullshit taxes; ineligibility from food-stamps and public housing; disqualification from participating in the Big Brother/ Big Sister program; or inability to find work would be some nice perks as well.