Charles Thomas Jr. doesn't own any land
near his trailer, where police seized more than 500 marijuana plants
Thomas says he didn't plant them. And, after being questioned
by police, he was never charged with a
A local grand jury declined to indict
Thomas. But the state nonetheless is demanding that he pay $1,161,859.94
in taxes, penalties and interest on the marijuana under a 1994 law
that allows such an assessment based only on a police officer's
The Marijuana and Controlled Substances Tax
law says that anyone who possesses enough illegal drugs to be
considered a drug dealer must pay taxes on them. Lawmakers hoped the
measure would recover some of the profits of the illegal drug trade and get
tough on drug dealers.
Anyone with more than five marijuana
plants is considered a dealer and must pay $1,000 per plant. A person
with at least 42.5 grams of marijuana must pay $3.50 per gram. In cases
where a dealer is also convicted of a crime, it serves - in effect - to
levy a substantial additional fine.
when the standard of proof in criminal court cannot be met - as in Thomas'
case - the law can still punish those identified by police as drug
"I don't know what I'm going to do," said
Thomas, 26, a college dropout from Breathitt County. "I could never
pay this off."
Relying on a police report that listed
him as the "dealer"
> responsible for the plants, the
Kentucky Revenue Cabinet has ordered Thomas to pay the tax on
them. And just to appeal the tax bill, Thomas must first post bond in
the amount of the tax that the state says he owes, which Thomas said
"It's about drove me crazy," he said
as he stood in front of his trailer home and surveyed the hollow where
police seized the marijuana plants. "I don't own any of this. I don't
control any of it."
Despite the popularity of
anti-drug bills with members of the
Kentucky General Assembly, the
1994 bill had its opponents - including respected attorneys in both
Former Sen. Walter Baker, a
Glasgow Republican who later briefly served on the Kentucky
Supreme Court, believed the law was flawed and voted against it. "If
you violate the law you ought to be prosecuted," Baker said. "But with this
law it seems the state is loading up in what is an unfair and, in my
judgment, an unconstitutional way."
Thomas' troubles began
last September when the Kentucky State Police's Marijuana Strike
Force first spotted the plants from a helicopter along Cloverfork Road
in western Breathitt County. State police files indicate investigators
found marijuana plants in two large patches and in three smaller
ones. Thomas said that as investigators were cutting down the
plants, police stopped him for questioning as he was driving on the
gravel road from his trailer. According to police records, Thomas said he
told police that he had nothing to do with the plants, an assertion he has
repeated. At the time the plants were found, Thomas said, he was living
mostly at college in Morehead.
records show the investigation was closed Jan. 26. But under the 1994 law,
the trooper who conducted the investigation sent a "Notice of Seizure and
Tax Lien" to the revenue cabinet, listing Thomas as the "dealer" of
the seized marijuana plants.
The law sets a tax of
$1,000 per plant plus a $1,000 penalty per plant. The tax and penalty,
plus $4,078.38 in interest put Thomas' original bill at
$1,038,078.38. Interest and fees have increased the bill - which is
still growing - to $1,161,859.94.
In 1995 two Lexington men
challenged the tax law, saying it violated their rights against
double jeopardy. After winning in Fayette Circuit Court and in the
Kentucky Court of Appeals, the state Supreme Court in November 1998
unanimously ruled against their double-jeopardy claim, saying the tax does
constitute double jeopardy, partly because "assessment and payment
of the drug tax is not contingent on the commission of a crime. The
tax is levied regardless of whether the taxpayer has been
Thomas' lawyer, Robert Cornett, is
exploring options to fight
Thomas' tax bill. "It's very distressing,"
Cornett said. "The state apparently lacks evidence needed to bring
charges, but on the word of one police officer it can levy this tax that
puts Charles' life on hold."
The revenue cabinet
has filed a lien against Thomas in the Breathitt County Clerk's office and
has written letters to the two banks in the county to seize any of
his accounts. Thomas had no accounts at either bank. He works for
his mother's consignment clothing store and for other family-owned
businesses and is paid in cash, but he's reluctant to apply for another job
because the revenue cabinet has warned it might
Charles Werder, a supervisor in the revenue
cabinet's Division of Collections, said tax bills under the law are
sent when a law-enforcement officer submits a report identifying a "dealer"
of seized drugs.
"The only information we get is from
the arresting officer. That's what we use," said Werder. "We
don't really have much option."
"It's not a very
taxpayer-friendly-type law," Werder added. "It pretty much tells you that
it's up to the person to prove that they're innocent, which kind of
contradicts everything we've been brought up
From: M.O.M. nox2128@...
email alert list mom-l@...
Sent: Thursday, June
08, 2000 4:44 PM
Militia of Montana
P.O. Box 1486, Noxon, MT
Tel: 406-847-2735 n Fax: 406-847-2246
Note: In law, what do we call persons who
knowingly benefit from the fruits of criminal activity? Is it not "An accessory
after the fact." The follow up question is, is crime not a crime if crime
is committed by government?
was our past mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Bradley, who said, "Drugs are helping
Los Angeles." Now if government is admittedly finding drugs financially
profitable to their coffers, I wonder how long it will take then in their
"War on Drugs" to eradicate this from our society? Does anyone have a
clue?" Is this not a "War" we will NEVER win, nor are ever intended to win? It
is a pretext to set up a police state while profiting in the process. Don't look
for an end to this one, folks. It just won't happen! It's too
J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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"..it does not require a majority to
prevail, but rather an irate,
tireless minority keen to set brush fires in
"There are a thousand hacking
at the branches of evil to one
who is striking at the root." --
Henry David Thoreau