Monday, August 17, 2009

Marijuana Tax Stamp Act Still Functional In Texas since 1989!

Stamp of disapproval

Sonya Campbell
The Daily Times

Published August 15, 2009

Did you know Texas has a law requiring a marijuana tax stamp?

According to Texas Tax Code, chapter 159, those who possess marijuana
must purchase and affix state-issued stamps onto their contraband. Those
who don't face the possibility of a fine and even a third-degree
felony charge.

The law was enacted in 1989, and the stamps remain available at the
State Comptroller' s Office for $3.50 per gram.

While it may appear the buyer of such a stamp is admitting to a crime
— possession of marijuana — the law prohibits releasing
buyers' names to anyone, including law enforcement.

The law's intent is to impose an additional penalty of tax evasion
on drug offenders following their arrest. In Texas, there is a civil
penalty or fine of 200 percent of the tax owed.

Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer remembers when the law was enacted
and his thoughts at the time.

"It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen," he said, Friday.

The sheriff also recalled trying to get a list of stamp purchasers and
being denied his request.

But he knows stamps were purchased.

There's been a couple of cases, locally, where people were charged
for not having the stamps and times when others were found to have them.

"Most were probably sold to law enforcement officers because they
were considered a novelty item," the sheriff said.

It's been a few years since anyone incurred such a charge, locally.

"I don't know why it (the stamp tax law) quit being used,"
he said.

Hierholzer now is trying to determine whether the law still is
enforceable. If so, he's planning to implement it.

While having the stamp protects people from being taxed on their
contraband, and/or fined for violating the state statute, it does not
mean they can legally possess marijuana.

Evidence of such can be found almost daily at the Kerr County jail,
where 245 people have been booked for possession of marijuana since the
first of the year.

Thirteen states have decriminalized possessing small amounts of
marijuana. Obviously, Texas is not among them.

However, Lucy Wilke, 216th assistant district attorney, said a majority
of the local possession cases are misdemeanors.

"Most of our drug cases involve cocaine and methamphetamine. We also
see some ecstasy, heroin, prescription drugs, etc., but not as much as
cocaine and meth. Felony marijuana cases are probably only about 25
percent of the drug cases, perhaps even less," she said.
"Marijuana has become so decriminalized over the years, that most
cases are now misdemeanor. An interesting note, I have seen old
judgments from the '70s sending people to prison for amounts of
marijuana that would now be considered Class C misdemeanor —
meaning, now, you can't even send them to county jail, much less

She compared the penalties of being found guilty of a Class C to being
fined for a traffic violation.

Decriminalization is advocated by some people in the Lone Star State.

Former Independent Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who is
rumored to be considering another run for governor, has openly supported
the decriminalization of marijuana, although he does not advocate making
its sale legal.

He's been quoted by the media as saying, "I'm not talking
about like Amsterdam. We've got to clear some of the room out of the
prisons so we can put the bad guys in there, like the pedophiles and the
politicians. "

http://dailytimes. com/story. lasso?ewcd= a9b08cb8df5bb929

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