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Due process?

In Tennessee, a 60 year-old man recovering from cancer smoked marijuana to alleviate the pain and depression. He has since been arrested and had his money and cars seized and a lien placed on his house. All this without due process of law, which is blatantly unconstitutional. The fifth amendment states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Why was the man’s property illegally seized? He failed to pay the drug tax, a topic I’ve covered at length.

The illegal drug tax is serving its purpose, which is confiscation of property without due process of law. When you’re arrested for dealing drugs, you’re delinquent in tax payments. And 75% of the tax goes to the law enforcement agency that made the bust. So, your property is taken to settle that delinquency.

What if, being a good citizen drug dealer, you decide to avoid possible property seizure by actually paying the taxes? Good luck, as it has been reported that the Department of Revenue won’t accept payments.

So much for due process of law and property rights.

Note: Another reprint from guest posting at No Silence Here.

11 Responses to “Due process?”

  1. Ravenwood Says:

    Question: What happens to cars and houses that are still owned by the bank? Does the government only get the equity or is the citizen still on the hook to pay off the note on a car/house he no longer owns?

    The reason I ask is this. If drug users/abusers start defaulting on all these loans, you know who is going to get stuck with the bills. The banks aren’t just absorb the loss. They will pass that on to other consumers, and that means Mr. and Mrs. Non-drug User who were mistakenly apathetic about the issue.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    I imagine the police keep the car and the suspect still gets stuck with the bill. Which means that financing institutions get screwed.

  3. hellbent Says:

    This sucks from a personal liberty perspective, but it also sucks for what it does to law enforcement. This gives cops a big incentive to turn any incident into a drug case so as to allow confiscation of revenue, and it also gives them incentive to bully drug offenders with assets.

    A few years ago, KCSD was called to the scene of a death. A man had just received an insurance settlement, cashed the check, went home with $80K in a duffle bag, and ended up dead. His wife said it was suicide. A clever investigator might have questioned that, but Hutchison’s really clever investigators found a bottle of ammonia under the sink, declared the house a meth lab, and took the cash for themselves. They couldn’t make the drug charge stick and were ordered to return the money to the spouse. KCSD couldn’t find the money, tried to claim it didn’t exist, but a videotape of the scene spoiled their lie. I believe Knox County taxpayers ended up coughing up the dough.

    That was before the drug tax law. Today, they wouldn’t need to worry about whether the drug charge sticks. I wonder if that means they’d spend more time investigating the death?

    With all those potential assets out there to seize, will law enforcement have any time to investigate robberies, assaults, rapes, the kind of stuff most of us think of as crimes? There’s no payoff, and you have to deal with truly dangerous people.

  4. hellbent Says:

    Cops in Memphis just busted an ice cream man for selling pot. They didn’t confiscate his truck because they had no evidence the company knew of his activity. Probably they just seize the equity on cars and houses, unless of course the bank gave grandpa a loan for a hydroponic growth chamber.

  5. Xrlq Says:

    I understand why you consider the drug tax undesirable, but what gives you the idea it is illegal? Surely you’re not relying on Ben Livingston’s frivolous interpretation of Dept. of Revenue of Montana v. Kurth Ranch?

  6. SayUncle Says:

    1 – seizing property without due process of law is unconstitutional. i’d consider that, you know, illegal.

    2 – when i refer to it as ‘illegal drug tax’ i mean it’s a tax on illegal drugs. Of course, it can also be a snarky double entendre, it i were prone to snark.

  7. Xrlq Says:

    D’oh. Got damned syntax.

  8. markm Says:

    If you can’t actually pay it, then it’s not actually a tax. So it’s hard to see what this is, except an excuse to seize property without actually proving a criminal case. Which seems to me to be pretty hard to square with the fundamental law of the land (the Constitution, e.g. “nor shall property be seized without due process of law”). But that’s just my common sense interpretation, I’m not a lawyer.

  9. tgirsch Says:

    Of course, it can also be a snarky double entendre, it i were prone to snark.

    And if the Pope were Catholic, he could say mass. 🙂

  10. egalia Says:

    Illegal drug tax, unconstitutional drug tax, what’s the difference?

    You also have to pay to have your car towed away (it was $90.00 here in Nashville).

    The good news is the law is being challenged; this state loves to be sued.

  11. Xrlq Says:

    Illegal drug tax, unconstitutional drug tax, whats the difference?

    Sounds like I’m not the only one who missed the double entendre. Many drugs are illegal, but none, save alcohol, have ever been unconstitutional.