Drug-Sniffing Tax Collectors


One of the constitutional objections to "taxes" on illegal drugs, you may recall, is that they require taxpayers to incriminate themselves. It turns out that's not the only sort of tax that can get drug offenders in trouble:

CORVALLIS, Ore.—A man arrested for an indoor marijuana growing operation after a county worker smelled the illegal plant on a tax payment has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Eric Brian Michaelis, 37, also agreed to forfeit more than $65,000 in cash seized after Benton County sheriff's deputies found 230 marijuana plants inside his home in November.

Deputies found almost every room in the house filled with marijuana plants, from seedlings to bushes that were 4 feet tall. The operation included a back-up generator to power the grow lamps in case the electricity went out.

The investigation started when a Benton County tax clerk noticed that the $600 in cash that Michaelis used to pay his taxes smelled like marijuana.

This seems like a situation that could have been avoided through money laundering. Incidentally, while Michaelis' 16-month sentence is too long by about 16 months, in the federal system he would have gone to prison for at least five years, the mandatory minimum for cultivating 100 or more plants.

[Thanks to NORML's Allen St. Pierre for the tip.]