US Marijuana Party

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Putnam County property seized to pay drug tax

A Bloomington Springs house and the land surrounding it are believed to be the first real estate in Tennessee to be seized for unpaid taxes on illegal drugs.

The property, owned by Jerry Palk, is being taxed for the marijuana authorities found growing inside the unoccupied house last month — 80 marijuana plants 3 to 4 feet tall.

The taxing of the marijuana and the seizure of the property Tuesday to force payment of the taxes are not connected to criminal charges pending against Palk. The tax is a civil matter handled by the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the total amount of which is not publicly disclosed in individual cases.

The taxes are levied under a new law that went into effect in January taxing ''unauthorized substances'' such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and untaxed liquors and spirits.

Tennessee's Unauthorized Substance Tax, levied per gram, is $3.50 for marijuana, $50 for cocaine, and $200 for meth and crack cocaine.

When the Revenue Department taxes an alleged drug possessor, that person has an opportunity to pay the tax. If it is not paid, agents may seize and auction off anything of value the person owns.

The taxing of the illegal substance does not have to await criminal conviction of the owner. The possession of the substance alone triggers the tax.

Seventy-five percent of the taxes collected goes back to the law enforcement agency handling the case, with the remaining 25% going to the state's general fund.


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