Exhibit: Taxation Without Legalization

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Taxation Without Legalization
Illegal drugs are a $65 billion-a-year business, so it’s no wonder cash-strapped states would want to get their hands on some of that illicit revenue. Enter drug tax stamps, which have become a favorite with collectors but not with the criminals who are supposed to buy them. Drug tax laws were pioneered by Arizona in 1983 as a way to assess civil penalties on drug dealers even if they are not criminally convicted, and the laws have since been adopted by 16 other states. Dealers are supposed to stick the stamps on bags of marijuana, vials of cocaine, and other illegal drugs to prove they have paid the tax. Although they are assured that purchasing the stamps will not make them targets of law enforcement, it is no surprise that few dealers take the states up on the offer. North Carolina’s tax department, which has collected $66 million in fines from dealers caught with the goods but without the stamps, estimates the vast majority of the 63 stams sold have been to collectors, with only three being bought by actual drug dealers.

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The Holy Cola Wars

So you want to buy the world a Coke? Guess what? The Muslim world ain’t buying. And these days, neither are the French. To Fox-News-Watching Americans, that’s an outrage. But to Tawfiq Mathlouthi, the French-Tunisian founder of Mecca Cola, it’s a market opportunity.

“No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment!” goes the slogan on the bottle of Mecca, the purchase of which helps support Palestinian charities. And although Mathlouthi positions Mecca Cola as an Islam-friendly alternative for drinkers boycotting American colas, the beverage entrepreneur seems to be engaging in the sincerest form of corproate flattery. After all, his label’s design not only has the evocative Coke swoosh, but Mathlouthi has the cheek to market his formula as Mecca “Classic.”

It’s unclear how well the stuff is selling on the Arab street, where fundamentalists might find its commercialization of the holy land an abomination. But it has already sold millions in Europe, where it’s reported to be a hit among the anti-imperialist set. To date, the Coca-colonialists in Atlanta have kept their trademark lawyers at bay.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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