Minor v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Dodge County Juvenile Court

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 396 US 87 (1969)
ARGUED: Oct 15, 1969
DECIDED: Dec 08, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Minor v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1969 in Minor v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

Number 271, Buie against the United States.

You may proceed whenever you're ready Mr. Diamond.

David A. Diamond:

May it please the Court.

This case concerns the application of the privilege against self-incrimination as developed in the Marchetti, Grosso and Haynes and most recently, the Leary case, to the situation of a transferor of marihuana pursuant to the transfer, order form requirements of the Marihuana Tax Statutes.

Briefly, the facts of this case are that the petitioner was introduced by a friend to two federal narcotics agents acting in an under cover capacity.

He had no -- they had no knowledge of his existence prior to the introduction.

They were introduced to him simply as Mike, the petitioner's first name.

As a result of the introduction there were various sales of marihuana and marihuana drugs.

The sales were made not in pursuance of an order form issued by the treasurer of the United States as required by 26 U.S.C. Section 4742.

Petitioner did not request an order form from the agents, the agents had not procured such an order form.

Petitioner was indicted on three counts, two of which were selling, not in pursuance of an order form and was convicted on one count, not selling pursuant to an order form.

The case was affirmed by the Second Circuit relying solely on United States against Minor.

The Second Circuit held that the marihuana statute, the marihuana tax statute was for practical purposes, the same as the Narcotic Drug Act involved in Minor that there was no risk of self-incrimination to a transferor and that the transferor of marihuana was not a person inherently suspect of criminal activities and that the profession of transferring marihuana or being involved in marihuana transactions was not an inherently suspect and illegitimate business.

This was not a statute designed to close down a criminal activity but rather to regulate a legitimate activity.

Briefly, the Marihuana Tax Act statutory scheme consists of an occupational tax provision, series of provisions requiring any transferor of marihuana, anyone who deals in marihuana which is defined as to very broadly and includes selling it or giving away, to register as a dealer, to pay an occupational tax and to keep records his transactions.

There is also a transfer tax provision which requires a transferee, a purchaser or acquirer of marihuana to obtain an order from the treasurer of the United States.

He must in it pay in advance the tax on the material to be acquired, the tax is either at the rate of $1.00 an ounce or $100.00 an ounce depending upon whether the transferee is himself registered.

He pays the tax based upon the amount he intends to acquire.

In order for him to acquire that order form, he must place on file with the government prior to obtaining the form and prior to consummating the transaction, his own name and address and the name and address of his proposed transferor as well as the amount of the drug he proposes to transfer.

There are numerous exemptions from the order form requirement and as the Court noted in Leary, they are essentially all of the legitimate transactions that are involved in marihuana, transverse by Doctors to patients by pharmacist to costumers pursuant to Doctor's orders, by officials of the government, transactions for export, so that there is left subject to the order form requirement a residual class of essentially of illegal transactions.

The information obtained by the order form, he is given copies of the order form are made available to any state or local official who is concerned officially with the enforcement of local narcotics laws.

The mere possession of marihuana is illegal in every state of the union with certain very limited exceptions corresponding largely to the exemptions of the order form requirements under Section 4742.

The Leary case --

Byron R. White:

That you can't get an order form from the secretary unless you show that --

David A. Diamond:


Byron R. White:

That you're legal under state law, can you?

David A. Diamond:

No, any person may obtain an order form.

The marihuana statutes differ radically from the narcotic statutes in this regard.

Any person desiring to acquire an order form may acquire it if he is a so called legitimate purchaser, one who is registered under the occupational tax sections.

He pays $1.00 per ounce.