Our Omaha drug trafficking lawyer blog often covers current events related to Nebraska’s drug laws, and an interesting new story is making the rounds; a local lawmaker recently proposed to eliminate the state’s tax on illegal drugs. An article published by U.S. News earlier this year explains Senator Laura Ebke’s reasoning to get rid of the drug stamp. “Tax laws should exist, I think you could argue, to raise revenue deemed necessary for the operation of related public programs – not as a way to pile on to criminal defendants,” she says. Ebke refers to the nature of the tax rarely being paid until defendants are caught with illegal drugs, which she believes does not benefit the state as it should.
The War on Drugs Initiated Drug Stamps
The state’s drug stamp was founded in 1990 as a byproduct of Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs. The idea was that this tax would help deter organized drug crime. According to NORML, 20 states currently have drug stamp laws in place. This means that people with cannabis or illegal drugs are required to purchase stamps for every item of contraband. The financial penalty is intended to prevent possession of illegal substances, but NORML notes that most citizens have no idea that the tax even exists. What ends up happening is that drug offenders get slapped with an additional penalty for not paying this tax after they have already been charged with their respective violation. Depending on the state, this noncompliance could result in a misdemeanor penalty or a hefty fine with extra jail time.
Nebraska’s Tax Benefits are Up for Debate
Part of Ebke’s argument is that sales from these tax stamps in Nebraska has only resulted in roughly $13,000 from 1991 to 2017. On the other hand, the state received almost $1.5 million from those people who were forced to pay the tax after being caught with illegal substances. At the end of the day, there is little evidence that supports this tax being helpful in deterring drug trafficking or possession. To Ebke, drug stamps are a “throw-away charge” that people won’t abide by either because they’re simply unaware that it exists or for fear of self-incrimination if they do purchase the stamps.
Opponents of this motion to repeal the drug stamp tax law argue that this extra penalty is a great way to hit organized crime where it hurts. They stand firm that these financial penalties will encourage those with illegal substances to either ditch their ways or comply with state law by purchasing the stamps. If the law were to be repealed, some lawmakers fear that the cannabis legalization agenda will gain even more momentum.
Retain an Experienced Omaha Drug Trafficking Lawyer
The drug stamp tax law has had a controversial history from its origins during the war on the drugs. Though lawmakers like Ebke are working to eliminate it entirely, opponents that fear cannabis legalization will do their best to maintain this law. For Nebraska citizens, it’s important to be aware of any such regulations that fall below the radar of common knowledge. If you or someone you know is dealing with any type of drug-related charge, call Omaha drug trafficking lawyer Daniel Stockmann call (844) 906-0641 for a free consultation.
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