Article I authored for PolicyMic – this is the original article before the editors blew it up.
NBC News is reporting that dozens of federal IRS and DEA agents swarmed the Oaksterdam medical marijuana dispensary and education centers operated by Richard Lee of San Francisco today.
Some might wonder why IRS agents are running around in commando gear raiding peaceful pot dispensaries, but to those familiar with the movement, the IRS’s involvement in shutting down peaceful voluntary businesses such as Oaksterdam goes back a long long ways.
Back before the Supreme Court decided that the federal state could regulate any and all aspects of human behavior, the federal state was limited in the amount of harm it could cause society. The courts ruled that the federal state could not directly declare various voluntary interactions to be illegal on a whim. Instead, the courts limited the federal state to using taxes as a weapon of mass destruction against the public, which is how the first marijuana prohibition came about. Remember, it took a Constitutional amendment to make the production of drinking alcohol a crime, which shows you just how far the court has veered from its past role as a defender of human rights.
The first ban on dried flowers came about when the federal state mandated that all cannabis that was produced or sold be affixed with a tax stamp. The catch being that obtaining one of the stamps was next to impossible and that the penalties for selling marijuana without a stamp were wildly excessive. Up to 5 years in prison (which is still less than the federal penalties that apply today). The IRS was also responsible for the prosecution of Al Capone for his boot legging during prohibition. Al Capone went down for tax evasion on illicit profits.
Because the production of marijuana is illegal, dispensaries often try to hide or mask their suppliers in their finances so that in the event they are shut down, their sources are protected. I’m sure the IRS is in there digging for any links to growers who might not have been properly reported in tax statements. Further, the federal tax code is around 14,000 pages in total and a slip up on just one of those regulations may be enough to send Richard Lee to prison for a very long time.
Of course, the tax code is just one place Lee might have screwed up (at least according to the criminal state). The 2011 federal register is over 80,000 pages long; which, taken in conjunction with all the other federal registers, creates a situation where practically anything and everything is illegal in some way. Given that all of Oaksterdam’s accounting data and products were seized, I’m sure the devious tyrants at the IRS will find creative ways to put those millions of lines of law to bad use.
When I see people being thrown in cages for selling dried flowers, I have to wonder if the people doing the “throwing” feel good about themselves at the end of the day. Do they go home, kiss the wife, pet the dog, and not think about the unending misery of the people they just caged? Probably.
I suppose they reason to themselves that destroying millions of lives through the legal system is better than pot destroying millions of lives from its consumption. Of course, only a moron would believe that. Then again, morons make up the bulk of the federal bureaucracy.
Here’s a video of the raid shot by an independent reporter. The video shows the crowd harassing the police, calling them thieves, telling them to go investigate real crimes, and shaming them by telling them their faces will be plastered all over the national media as a disgrace.
During the video, ABC 7’s Mark Mathews is caught in the act of telling the officers they are doing an “amazing job” and thanking them for the video footage opportunity. Anything to make a buck, hey Mathews?