Monday, June 9, 2014

Lawsuit claims marijuana taxes violate Fifth Amendment - Attorney accuses Governor and Mayor of "Kingpin" violations

{Denver} -- Attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr. filed a lawsuit on June 9, 2014 in Denver District Court seeking to permanently end Colorado's marijuana taxes, on the grounds that payment of the taxes violates a citizen's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Corry also accuses Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of violating the federal "Kingpin" statute (aka, the federal law against operating a "continuing criminal enterprise") for collecting taxes and laundering money on a federally illegal substance.

The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed licensed medical and retail marijuana center, the "No Over Taxation" issue committee (which campaigned against Proposition AA, the marijuana tax issue approved by Colorado voters in 2013) and several individuals, including Kathleen Chippi, Larisa Bolivar, Miguel Lopez and William Chengelis.

Corry is seeking unspecified damages and a refund of all tax monies collected by the state.

If successful, Corry's lawsuit could be the basis for overturning ALL regulations regarding marijuana licensing and registration in Colorado on the same grounds. As long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, states cannot require people to give any information about themselves in order to distribute or purchase marijuana. ANY and ALL requirements to identify oneself would result in a "real and appreciable" risk of self-incrimination, and would require a citizen to implicate himself in federal crimes.

Read more about the Fifth Amendment here:

Corry cites a 1973 Colorado Supreme Court case (People vs. Duleff) that overturned a man's conviction for "selling marijuana without a license" because compliance with the licensing requirement would have required that person to violate his constitutional right against self-incrimination and reveal a violation of federal law. Corry writes, "The Colorado Supreme Court held specifically that the Fifth Amendment prohibits state licensing requirements that force a person to reveal a violation of federal law."

From the Duleff decision, Corry quotes the Colo. Sup. Ct.: "The Fifth Amendment prohibits licensing requirements from being used as a means of discovering past or present criminal activity which is subject to prosecution by calling attention to the licensee and his activities....There is no doubt that the information which Duleff would have been required to disclose would have been useful to the investigation of his activities, would have substantially increased the risk of prosecution, and may well have been a direct admission of guilt under federal law. The Fifth Amendment protects individuals from such compulsory, incriminating disclosures and provides a complete defense to prosecution." -- Colorado Supreme Court (1973)

Corry also cites a 1969 US Supreme Court case (Timothy Leary v. United States) in which the highest court in the country overturned Leary's marijuana possession conviction and ruled that the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was illegal, due to the fact that a person seeking a tax stamp and complying with the law would be forced to incriminate himself, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Corry writes, "Marijuana-specific taxes require plaintiffs and any other person paying said taxes to incriminate themselves as committing multiple
violations of federal law, including but not limited to, participating in, aiding and abetting, or conspiring to commit a 'continuing criminal enterprise' and 'money laundering.' These illegally-collected taxes are ultimately laundered by the State of Colorado through J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, which also participates knowingly in the continuing criminal enterprise." Item 67, Corry complaint filed 6/9/14.

Corry concludes, "It is illegal for government to retain tax monies illegally collected in violation of the constitution, so all amounts must be returned, and all records related to previous tax payments, destroyed."

Corry asks the Court to:

"Enter a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and/or permanent injunction ordering the Defendants, and all those acting in concert with them, to cease and desist from enforcement of the marijuana tax statutes, to cease and desist from any further collection, deposit, or laundering of the marijuana taxes, for a full refund of marijuana tax monies paid by any person or entity, and for destruction of all tax records and identifying information after full refunds are made."

"The state can't have it both ways. If it's illegal under federal law, you cannot collect taxes on it," says Kathleen Chippi, a plaintiff and member of the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project. "We have another case pending in the Colorado Supreme Court now, Coats v. Dish Network, where Colorado Attorney General John Suthers argues that medical marijuana patients can be fired from their jobs for using medical marijuana off-duty, even though it is legal under state law. Suthers argues in the Coats case that, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, patients have no rights."

"Yet Suthers and Hickenlooper, as kingpins in their continuing criminal enterprise, happily collect and spend the marijuana taxes, even though they
were collected in spite of multiple clear violations of federal law," Chippi concludes.

Read Boulder Weekly article on Federal Preemption issues and the Coats v. Dish Lawsuit (5/22/14):


Click here to read the complaint
No Over Taxation, et al, v. Hickenlooper, et al

People v. Duleff (Colorado Supreme Court case)

US v. Leary (US Supreme Court case)

Read more about the Fifth Amendment here:

Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    "The state can't have it both ways. If it's illegal under federal law, you cannot collect taxes on it"

    And Corry can't have it both ways - if it's illegal under federal law, it can't be legal in Colorado. If he's successful in his argument, than the court would have no choice but to overturn the entire amendment on the same grounds.

    You marijuana folks are your own worst enemy.

    1. I disagree. The federal government has the option of legalizing it.

    2. Anonymous1:30 AM

      Bingo. This lawsuit will accomplish one thing: re-criminalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado.

      They're not too bright.

    3. Anonymous8:21 AM

      They do, but they won't anytime soon.

    4. Anonymous1:25 PM

      How will the judge simply overturn an entire constitutional amendment. Doesn't it have to be put to vote first? Proposition AA is not a constitutional amendment. The judge isn't going to arbitrarily rule to undue a constitutional amendment. That is crying wolf.

  2. Actually, as the principal administrator of a continuing criminal enterprise which has taken in over $10 million in gross receipts from sales of illegal drugs, Governor Hack is not just a "drug kingpin", but a "super drug kingpin", liable for a mandatory lifetime sentence in Federal prison without possibility of parole.

  3. They will do anything to make it illegal again.

  4. I don't think the goal of this attorney is to make it illegal but more towards forcing the federal government to reschedule cannabis so that people do not have to live in fear for helping sick people. google carl rubicam douchebag and join us.

  5. Anonymous6:45 PM

    As someone else said, all this lawsuit will accomplish is potentially re-criminalizing marijuana for recreational purposed in Colorado. I agree that the state is engaging in an unethical process by taxing the sales of Marijuana, but the federal government is not going to come after customers of these dispensaries because it would create an absolute mess that no one wants to have to deal with. Not only that, but President Barack Obama has already made a statement that going after businesses and other individuals for using/selling marijuana in Colorado isn't a priority for them, and even went on to say that it's an important experiment that will play a major role in revising federal laws on marijuana in the coming years. It's best to just leave this alone and appreciate the fact that for those lucky enough to live in the state of Colorado, they can enjoy this privilege that so few in this country are able to. Just shut up and don't ruin a good thing, because the rest of the country needs for this to be successful if we have any chance of our states adopting these policies.

  6. Chadwick1:13 PM

    Corry's argument is rightfully limited to taxation of cannabis, and not the regulation thereof. The licensing and regulation of cannabis are laws enacted consistent with Colorado's constitutional police powers, and only purport to offer exemptions from state-level cannabis crimes. No licensee is compelled by the state to sell cannabis against federal law.

  7. The Fifth Amendment protects individuals from such compulsory, incriminating disclosures and provides a complete defense to prosecution." -- Colorado Supreme Court (1973)top law firms in nyc

  8. Just thought I would share with your readers that William Chengelis is a lair and disgrace. Many time he has said that he was a Vietnam Veteran, but guess what? He is a phony and never served one day in Vietnam. Here is a good story about Chengelis. Read the comment and see what he says to justify his lying.

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