State & Local Legislatures

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Bad Bills: Drug Tax Dies in Virginia Legislature

A bill that would have required anyone possessing an illegal drug to get a tax stamp within 48 hours and affix that stamp to the drugs has died a timely death in the Virginia legislature. House Bill 2754, introduced by Delegate Robert Hurt (R-Chatham), was killed in House finance subcommittee on Tuesday.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/texasdrugtaxstamp.jpg
Texas drug tax stamp, auctioned on ebay
Under the proposed bill, marijuana would have been taxed at the rate of $0.40 per gram for marijuana, $50 a gram for cocaine, $200 a gram for other controlled substances, and $20 a gallon for moonshine. But the tax would not be imposed on the first 1 ½ ounces of marijuana or the first quarter-ounce of hard drugs.

The Department of Taxation, which would have issued the tax stamps, would not have required identification from the stamp taxpayer, thus precluding criminal prosecution. But the tax could be applied to any substances seized by police and the bill sent to the drugs' possessor.

Delegate Hunt portrayed the measure as an effort to go after drug dealers, saying it was a "civil tax imposed upon those who require government services and aren't paying their fair share." Dealers should ante up, Hunt argued. "The big picture is that drug traffickers put a huge burden on all the rest of us who are law-abiding taxpayers," Hurt said. "This is simply to make them share in those costs."

Opponents of the bill, including Lennice Werth of Virginians Against Drug Violence and Michael Krawitz of Virginia NORML advanced unique arguments to thwart the bill. Krawitz told legislators the bill did not address the substance abuse at the root of the drug traffic and that the state would send a mixed message by profiting from criminal activity, while Werth warned that passage of the bill could lead people to think that drugs were now legal in Virginia.

"These stamps would be bought by collectors, they would be put on the Internet, they would be on eBay, and people all over the country would believe that these drugs are legal in Virginia if you pay this tax," Werth said.

Some 20 states have drug tax laws on the books, but they are unevenly enforced.

[Rhode Island] Medical Marijuana Act Up for Inspection

Location: 
RI
United States
Publication/Source: 
Brown Daily Herald
URL: 
http://media.www.browndailyherald.com/media/storage/paper472/news/2007/02/06/Metro/Medical.Marijuana.Act.Up.For.Inspection-2700232.shtml?

Utah: Bills to treat and fight drugs pass first vote before Senate

Location: 
UT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Daily Herald (UT)
URL: 
http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/209129/4/

Medicinal pot dispensaries under scrutiny

Location: 
Whittier, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_5159040

Medical Marijuana: Bills Introduced in Minnesota, Moving in New Mexico

Minnesota senators introduced a bill last Monday to allow terminal and chronically ill patients to use marijuana without fear of state prosecution. Meanwhile, a New Mexico bill that has made it to the brink of passage in the last two years is moving again.

In Minnesota, SF345 is sponsored by state Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), who told reporters he warmed to the idea after his father died of cancer two years ago after suffering months of intense pain. "We're talking about quality of life issues," said Murphy. "This isn't for everybody. This is another tool in the doctor's toolbox, if the patient feels it's appropriate and they're willing to give it a try."

Under the bill, anyone suffering from a "chronic or debilitating disease" would be able to qualify for a registration card. Registered patients or caregivers could possess up to 12 plants or 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Similar bills have been introduced the past two years in Minnesota, but have gone nowhere.

It's a slightly different picture in New Mexico, where in the past two years, a medical marijuana bill has made it to the very brink of passage only to be derailed largely for reasons having much to do with legislative politics and little to do with medical marijuana. This year, SB523, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act, is again rolling.

The bill passed its first legislative hurdle last week when it sailed through the Senate Public Affairs Committee despite the objections of law enforcement. But while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) last year publicly supported the bill, this year, as he embarks on a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, he has been silent. Health Department spokespersons at a hearing on the bill declined to take a position either for or against.

Medical marijuana: Easy panel passage gives hope for supporters

Location: 
NM
United States
Publication/Source: 
Santa Fe New Mexican
URL: 
http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/56296.html

Healthy weed: Lawmakers aim to pass medical marijuana bill

Location: 
MN
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Winona Daily News (MN)
URL: 
http://www.winonadailynews.com/articles/2007/02/01/news/01lead.txt

Medical marijuana bill tabled by panel

Location: 
Helena, MT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Billings Gazette (MT)
URL: 
http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/01/31/news/state/54-legimarijuana.txt

Medical marijuana bill introduced

Location: 
MN
United States
Publication/Source: 
St. Paul Pioneer Press
URL: 
http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/16576734.htm

Federal officials ask states to tighten medical marijuana law

Location: 
Honolulu, HI
United States
Publication/Source: 
Daily Herald (UT)
URL: 
http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/208317/4/

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