WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT
Drug tax stamps
| MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state
law requring drug dealers to buy tax stamps to place on their illegal drugs was declared
unconstitutional Friday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The court ruled the law violates the constitutional privileges against self-incrimination in two ways.
First, the court said, it requires dealers to purchase the stamp from the state and provide incriminating information that could be used by prosecutors.
Second, it requires the dealer to place the stamps on illicit drugs, showing authorities that the individual possesses the drugs and knows that they are illegal, the court said.
"Thus compliance with the stamp law's purchase requirement involves the incriminating admission of crucial elements of the crime of possession of controlled substances," the court said.
Wisconsin Supreme Court
| The 1990 law
requires dealers of cocaine, marijuana, LSD or hallucinogenic mushrooms to buy stamps from
the state Department of Revenue and display them on their drugs.
The stamps can be purchased anonymously and dealers convicted of breaking the law can be imprisoned five years and fined $10,000.
The decision reverses a Fourth District Court of Appeals case involving a man convicted in 1993 in Dane County Circuit Court of cocaine trafficking and
|failing to possess drug tax stamps.
"Although identifying and prosecuting drug dealers is a
laudable purpose which this court wholeheartedly applauds, the Legislature failed to use
constitutional means to achieve this purpose," the court said. "We therefore
reluctantly strike down the drug tax stamp law as unconstitutional."