September 18, 2015 The Tax Lawyer

The Altered State of American Drug Taxes

Vol. 68, No. 4 - Summer 2015

Jeremy M. Vaida

Abstract

    The current state of American drug taxes occupies murky legal territory.  Marijuana, which is legal in some form in almost half the states, Washington D.C., and Guam, is illegal federally.  Similarly, illegal drug taxes, though purportedly civil levies, have been declared criminal punishments by a number of our states' highest courts.  Despite these seemingly inherent contradictions, states continue to experiment with new and retooled drug taxes as they wrestle with rapid changes in the nation's drug policy.

    This Article seeks to provide a snapshot of this shifting landscape by cataloguing the full range of drug taxes as they exist today and identifying common problems that arise from America's conflicting drug policies.  The paper then proposes possible alternatives that could be implemented by jurisdictions in the future.

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