As the war on drugs continues, states have begun to supplement their prosecutorial arsenal. In addition to tougher criminal sentences, drug tax assessments increasingly await those convicted of drug offenses. This civil method for deterring the possession of illicit narcotics complements the criminal law by allowing the state to impose both a criminal sentence and a punitive tax assessment for the same offense. The United States Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to such tactics in Department of Revenue v. Kurth Ranch. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that a Montana drug tax proceeding could not follow a criminal conviction without implicating the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy. This Note analyzes the impact Kurth Ranch will have upon the taxation of illicit drugs. First, a survey of specific-model drug taxation statutes is provided. Second, this Note discusses Supreme Court double jeopardy jurisprudence prior to Kurth Ranch. Third, the Court's opinion and holding in Kurth Ranch is outlined, with particular emphasis on Nebraska's Marijuana and Controlled Substances Tax. The Note concludes with a discussion of the administrative and legislative remedies that remain available for taxing illicit drugs after Kurth Ranch.
Christian D. Stewart,
Double Jeopardy—State Drug Tax Statutes Go Up in Smoke: Department of Revenue v. Kurth Ranch, 114 S. Ct. 1937 (1994),
74 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol74/iss1/7