COLORADO: Remember Lois Lerner? She’s the IRS Exempt Organizations Chief whose emails disappeared but whose texts revealed bias against conservative groups. She has refused to testify multiple times claiming protection under the Fifth Amendment. The right not to incriminate yourself runs deep in our Constitution.
Even so, a Colorado tax on marijuana has been upheld by a federal court despite claims that paying it amounts to self-incrimination violating the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs want the taxes on recreational pot outlawed, reasoning that they require businesses and consumers to implicate themselves in federal crimes. The plaintiffs lost on getting an injunction at this point, but that doesn’t mean the lawsuit is over.
Indeed, the lawsuit challenging the taxes will continue, and the stakes are high. In Colorado, there’s a 2.9% sales tax plus a 10% marijuana sales tax. Plus, there is a 15% excise tax on the average market rate of retail marijuana. If you add that up, it’s 27.9%. Medical marijuana only pays the 2.9% sales tax.
The argument is pretty clever: making you pay these taxes is making you admit to the government that you are violating federal law. Even getting witnesses is tough, said one of the lawyers involved. After all, just being a witness would mean incriminating oneself!