I'm Confused About this Interstate Commerce Thing

In Raich, the Supreme Court determined that marijuana grown, harvested, and consumed at the same house in California constituted interstate commerce and therefore was subject to federal rather than state regulation (via the Consitution's commerce clause).

However, apparently cigarettes purchased over the Internet from an Indian Nation within the boundaries of NY state and consumed in Washington state are not interstate commerce and are therefore subject to Washington State sales tax:

On Thursday, a federal judge ordered tribal Internet
cigarette vendor Scott Maybee to turn over his list of Washington
customers who purchased cigarettes through his Web site,
SmartSmoker.com between November 7, 2004 and April 1, 2005, writes the Buffalo News.
The Washington Department of Revenue is sending letters to those
appearing on Maybee's list asking for full payment of uncollected taxes
from their purchases.

Actually, it is probably not sales tax involved but "use tax", the cutesy way most states get around limitations on taxing interstate commerce.  Basically, they invented a thing called use tax that applies only on goods that you use in state and on which no sale tax was paid to any state.  While the use tax legal evasion is common to most states,  I have written before about other such cute evasions Washington State uses to collect taxes where they are not supposed to.


  1. Gary and the Samoyeds:

    It's very simple: nothing in the Interstate Commerce clause shall be interpreted as limiting any government's power.

  2. Anonymous:

    DO NOT PURCHASE CIGARETTES FROM SMARTSMOKERS.COM! I ordered by phone after receiving an ad in the mail. AT NO TIME did the person on the phone mention that I would later be billed by both the state as well as the county I lived in. I'd even mentioned that the reason I was willing to pay shipping was because I'd still save a ton of money and have VERY strong objections to the taxes. I read that you pay FIVE DOLLARS in taxes for a $7 pack!! Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from the state saying I owed $10/carton (plus other fees). Yesterday I received a letter from the county saying the same. SO, in the end, I paid an extra $20/carton on top of what I'd paid when I purchased (which was last Dec, and it's now June). So I called Smartsmokers.com to complain about their blatant deceit and the girl with whom I spoke (who was incredibly rude) basically kept saying that "it states at the bottom of the invoice that taxes would be due at a later date," or some bull like that. My point was, they only tell you that AFTER THEY HAVE YOUR MONEY. Obviously, had I known that I'd be socked with taxes after the fact (and particularly because I ended up paying more than I would have if I'd purchased in my own neighbor-hood!!)I NEVER WOULD HAVE PURCHASED THRU SMARTSMOKERS. These people know exactly what they're doing. They are morally and ethically corrupt. DON'T LET THEM SCREW YOU LIKE THEY HAVE SO MANY OTHERS!!