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ME AND MY STATE DRUG
TAX STAMPS

GREETINGS!

My name is Rob Henak, and I am not a drug dealer. Rather, I am a lawyer specializing in criminal appeals and First Amendment work. See my Law Office Website.  My wife was surprised to learn a few years back that I also was a latent philatelist at the time she married me. I am now a member of the American Philatelic Society, the American Topical Association, and the State Revenue Society, among others.

I first became interested in state drug tax stamps when I represented a gentleman charged with a felony because he hadn't bought the necessary tax stamps and attached them to the bag of cocaine he happened to be carrying. I challenged Wisconsin's drug tax law and ultimately convinced the state supreme court to strike it down on self-incrimination grounds.   Read Decision

The process got me hooked (addicted?) to collecting these small examples of political absurdity (if you want to get money out of convicted drug dealers, the rational way to do it is with fines, not by creating a new bureaucracy to administer a separate tax that no one in his right mind would comply with). Over the years, I have been able to accumulate marijuana stamps from 23 of the 25 states which have sold them, along with several interesting varieties (of stamps, not marijuana!).  My collection was even featured in the July, 2003 issue of Playboy Magazine.  The difficulty of finding these stamps, however, has led me to expand my collecting interests into related areas. I now also collect topicals related to illegal drugs, such as stamps showing anti-drug themes, Psilocybe mushrooms, hemp, opium, and the like.

My State Marijuana Tax Exhibit

My Want List

Another cite with images of most of the state marijuana stamps is, logically enough, www.marijuanastamps.com

STATE MARIJUANA TAX STAMPS

Marijuana (or "hemp") has been cultivated around the world for thousands of years. Its fibrous stalk traditionally was used to make rope, paper and cloth. Its seeds are used as bird feed and human food, and its oil for lighting and soap. It also has long been used as a medicine. It was the psychoactive properties of its resin, however, which led to its regulation, taxation and, ultimately, prohibition.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 imposed an annual occupational tax, with payment reflected by a special tax stamp, on those who dealt in or possessed marijuana. It also imposed a tax upon all transfers of marijuana, with stamps reflecting payment. The Supreme Court held the Act unconstitutional on self-incrimination grounds in 1969.

Special Tax Stamp issued to grower of marijuana in 1945.  During World War II, the government encouraged the growth of marijuana for production of rope and other war materials.

Beginning with Arizona in 1983, a number of states have revived taxation of marijuana and other illegal drugs as part of a new "War on Drugs." 24 states have used revenue stamps to evidence payment of the tax. Tax rates for harvested marijuana range from $10 per ounce (Arizona) to $100 per gram (Nevada). A few states tax unharvested marijuana plants separately, at rates ranging from $134 per plant (Arizona) to $1000 per plant (Wisconsin and Kentucky).

Payment does not legalize the marijuana, and dealers reasonably fear disclosing their profession. Compliance with these laws thus has been minimal, with most stamps having been sold to collectors. In only Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma are stamps known to have been found "on piece." Also, most states ban sales of used stamps, so virtually all collectible marijuana stamps are unused.

In addition to the states which used tax stamps, at least five other states have taxed marijuana, but did not use stamps. Florida, Montana, and New Mexico have repealed their drug tax laws. Georgia and Indiana use receipts. Maryland permits local taxation of marijuana, but the local efforts (in Prince George's County and Baltimore) did not use revenue stamps and soon were abandoned.

A number of brief articles address drug stamps issued by various states. The best single resource is State Revenue News, 1995 Vol. 33, No. 3. That issue contains several articles, including Peter Martin's drug stamp catalog listings. Additional information can be found in State Revenue News, 1996 Vol 34, No. 3 at 22.

Other information can be found in:

bulletLes Winick, Times may be changing for drug tax stamps, Linn's Stamp News, 4/22/96 at 14
bulletBruce Ellison, Maine's marijuana stamp, Linn's Stamp News, 4/11/88 at 9
bulletRobert Henak, Gone and Back Again; Wisconsin Drug Tax Law Expired but Arises from the Dead, State Revenue News, 1998, Vol 36, No.1 at 29
bulletTerrence Hines, 1996 Arizona Cannabis Stamp, State Revenue News, 1998, Vol 36, No.1 at 29
bulletRobert Henak, Death Knell for Drug Taxes? State Revenue News, 1998 Vol. 36, No. 3 at 9
bulletRobert Henak, The Arizona Luxury Privilege Tax on Controlled Substances, State Revenue News, 1998 Vol. 36, No. 4 at 6
bulletRobert Henak, Marijuana Flyspecking - Texas, State Revenue News, 1999 Vol. 37, No. 1 at 10
bulletRobert Henak, Marijuana Flyspecking - Arizona, State Revenue News, 1999 Vol. 37, No. 2 at 6
bulletRobert Henak, Marijuana Flyspecking - Wisconsin, State Revenue News, 1999 Vol. 37, No. 3 at 10
bulletRobert Henak, Drug Stamp Update, State Revenue News, 1999 Vol. 37, No. 4 at 7
bulletE.J. Guerrant, Kansas Drug Stamps, State Revenue News, 1999 Vol. 37, No. 4 at 9
bulletRoger Forsyth, Wisconsin Drug Stamps, State Revenue News, 2001 Vol. 39, No. 1 at 24
bulletKansas State Profits from Drug Stamp Taxes, State Revenue News, 2003 Vol. 41, No. 2 at 26
bulletRobert Henak, Nevada Drug Tax Specimen Stamps Uncovered, State Revenue News, 2005, Vol. 43, No. 4 at 18
bulletRobert Henak, Tennessee Enacts Tax on Drugs and Illicit Alcoholic Beverages, State Revenue News, 2006,  Vol. 44, No. 1 at 12
bulletRobert Henak, The Arizona Luxury Privilege Tax on Controlled Substances, State Revenue News, 2006 Vol. 44, No. 2 at 16 (reprint of 1998 article)
bulletTerrence Hines, Tennessee Unauthorized Substance Stamps Available from SRS, State Revenue News, 2006, Vol 44, No.4 at 27
bulletErik Schelzig (Associated Press), Appeals Court Tosses Tennessee "Crack Tax," Seattle Times (9/8/2007), reprinted in State Revenue News, 2007, Vol. 45, No. 4 at 10
bulletAnne Barnard, New York Considering Drug Stamps, New York Times (1/24/2008), excerpted in State Revenue News, 2007, Vol. 46, No.2 at 15
bulletTerrence Hines, New Drug Stamps Available from the SRS, State Revenue News, 2008, Vol 46, No.4 at 21
bulletSean Roberts, Drug Tax Stamps, State Revenue News, 2008, Vol 46, No.4 at 22
bulletPlayboy Magazine, July, 2003 at 52

 

POSSESSION OF THE TAX STAMPS THEMSELVES IS NOT ILLEGAL AND YOUR PURCHASE WILL NOT CAUSE THE POLICE TO RAID YOUR HOME!!!!

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