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Failure to Affix an Iowa Drug Stamp: Tax on Controlled Substances

In Iowa, not only is an individual prohibited from selling an illegal drug, but they could also face criminal and civil penalties if they do not apply for, obtain, and attach a tax stamp to the controlled substance they are selling. The offense, referred to as failure to affix an Iowa drug tax stamp, is a Class D felony. If convicted, a person could spend up to 5 years in prison and face a fine of up to $7,500.

About the Excise Tax Law

The law was enacted in the 1990s as a way to combat drug crimes. If a person intends to sell drugs, they must submit an application to the Iowa Department of Revenue to get a tax stamp.

The stamps are color-coded depending on the type and amount of a controlled substance being sold:

  • Blue: marijuana plant
  • Maroon: packaged marijuana
  • Yellow: controlled substance per gram
  • Black: controlled substance per dosage

At a minimum, the stamp costs $215; however, the actual tax imposed on a controlled substance depends on the type and amount of the drug.

The rates are as follows:

  • Processed marijuana: $5 on each gram
  • Drugs other than processed marijuana: $250 on each gram or portion of a gram
  • Unprocessed marijuana plant: $750 for each plant
  • Substances other than marijuana not sold by weight: $450 on each 10 dosage units

Pursuing Violators of the Tax Stamp Law

Generally, Iowa’s Department of Revenue will hear of an arrest for a drug crime and will investigate it to see if the individual had a tax stamp affixed to the substance. If they did not, the agency would pursue the individual for drug excise tax and other penalties, which are applied separately from the criminal case.

Often, the state may use the failure to affix a drug stamp law as a bargaining tool during plea deals. The prosecutor might drop a more serious offense, such as drug trafficking, if the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the drug stamp violation.

According to the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, prosecution for drug tax violations has increased in recent years. In 2009, there were 209 such charges, which increased to 311 in 2018. Just this month, an Eldridge man was charged with this offense, after police stopped him for having an improper tail light. Police dogs detected drugs on the passenger side of the vehicle, where the man was sitting, and officers found crack cocaine and marijuana inside the man’s shoes.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Keegan, Tindal & Mason

The state harshly prosecutes and penalizes individuals who are alleged to have committed drug offenses. If you’re facing charges, having an experienced attorney on your side could make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case. Our lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive defense and will work toward getting charges dropped or the case dismissed.

Reach out to our skilled team today by calling us at (319) 499-5524 or contacting us online.