Tennessee has a nifty new tool for fighting drugs and simultaneously enriching law enforcement agencies: an Unauthorized Substance Tax of $3.50 a gram for marijuana, $50 for cocaine, and $200 for methamphetamine or crack. The first target of the new levy is Jerry Palk, whose Bloomington Springs house has been seized in lieu of the taxes on 80 marijuana plants police found there.
Since "the tax is a civil matter handled by the Tennessee Department of Revenue," A.P. explains, "the taxing of the illegal substance does not have to await criminal conviction of the owner. The possession of the substance alone triggers the tax." And as with civil asset forfeiture, the "tax" does not count as double punishment even if the "taxpayer" also does time and/or pays a fine for the same offense. Another similarity is that police have an incentive to target people based on their property holdings. The law enforcement agency that initiates a case gets 75 percent of the proceeds, with the rest going to the state's general fund.
[Thanks to Bill Piper at the Drug Police Alliance for the link.]