June 27, 2007

The Tennessee Drug Tax

In 2005, the State of Tennessee passed a law requiring persons to pay an excise tax on illegal substances. The Tennessee unauthorized substance tax, or "drug tax" or "crack tax", applies to controlled substances like marijuana and cocaine, and also illicit alcoholic beverages like moonshine. It allows someone to anonymously purchase stamps in person from the Department of Revenue based on the type and amount of the substance ($3.50 for a gram of marijuana, $50 for a gram of cocaine, etc.) with the understanding that doing so cannot be used against them in a criminal court. Possessing drugs is still illegal — the tax works completely outside the criminal justice system. A stamp cannot provide immunity from criminal prosecution, and a conviction of possession isn't required for the Department of Revenue to assess the penalties.

Opponents to the tax say allowing authorities to levy illegal drugs allows officials to bully people not convicted of crimes into paying thousands of dollars. The opponents of the Tennessee Illegal Substance Tax, and there are many, include a wide variety of groups.

In July, 2006, Chancellor Richard Dinkins ruled that the tax was unconstitutional stating that the tax violates an individual's right against self-incrimination and to due process.

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Despite this fact, the Tennessee Department of Revenue continues to attempt to collect these taxes. One of the biggest targets for these tax collectors are Bonnaroo concert goers.

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June 13, 2007

Bonnaroo 2007

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (Bonnaroo, Rooville, BonRoo, Broo, roo or the 'Roo for short) is a four day annual music festival by Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment, first held in 2002. The festival is held on a 700 acre (2.4 km²) farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. The main attractions of the festival are the multiple stages of live music, featuring mostly jam bands, but also including hip hop, jazz, americana, bluegrass, country music, folk, gospel, reggae, electronica, and other alternative music. The festival features craftsmen and artisans selling unique products, food and drink vendors, and many other activities put on various sponsors.

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On January 10, 2007, Bonnaroo organizers Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment purchased a major portion of the site where the annual music festival is held. The purchase of 530 acres encompassed all of the performance areas and much of the camping and parking area used for the annual festival; the festival will continue to lease another 250 acres that currently serve as additional parking and camping.

Tennessee Law Enforcement Officers across the state are well aware that a large number of out of state visitors make the trek to Manchester for this annual event. Unfortunately, law enforcement in some parts of the state tend to be a bit more "aggressive" with these out of state visitors than they might normally. They often believe that Bonnaroo concert goers carry a multitude of illegal substances with them when they visit the show. There are several things concert goers should remember should they be pulled over by one of these law enforcement officers.

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