“Follow the money.”
That iconic phrase from All the President’s Men, a docudrama about Watergate, continues to be valuable advice for those seeking to expose and analyze corruption. This is especially true when examining why our nation continues to wage an un-winnable war against our own citizens who choose to utilize cannabis.
Following the money gives insight into why a war on cannabis was waged in the first place and all of the powerful groups now looking to protect their financial interests. Nothing is more telling that money is at the root of this war than asset forfeiture proceedings. Property forfeiture proceedings allow law enforcement officials to seize anything of value, often cash and property, oftentimes without a criminal conviction proving any wrongdoing by anyone. Even more perverse, is the fact that local law enforcement in states with medical marijuana on the books, bypassing state proceedings and turning over forfeiture proceedings to the DEA, allowing the federal government to seize property while providing the local agencies a “finder’s fee” in return for cooperating with the federal forfeiture proceeding, even though state law has not been broken.
Forfeiture proceedings provide law enforcement officials with an incentive to look for property to seize, without any concern for actually seizing a conviction or whether the action is in the public’s best interest. Even though those facing forfeiture may very well be following state law, they can often be bullid into taking a plea deal and forgoing claims to their property as their deals will keep them out of jail and end the government’s attempts of taking away their parental rights if they have children. People will understandably take the deal, as family and freedom are priceless, and law enforcement officials are free to move onto their next target.
Kannabosm in Eugene, Oregon, is a recent example of this money grab by law enforcement officials. While the owners of the Kannabosom patient resource center have not been charged with any crime, law enforcement officials have already filed forfeiture claims, illustrating their real motive behind raiding the medical marijuana dispensary. From The Register-Guard:
Lane County authorities want to keep $60,637 in cash, a sport utility vehicle and an automated teller machine seized from a medical marijuana club owner whose Eugene dispensary was shut down after a police raid on Aug. 30.
Attorneys for the county last week filed a civil forfeiture complaint in Lane County Circuit Court that alleges the confiscated cash and property were connected to a criminal drug enterprise involving Curtis Shimmin, who was arrested on marijuana and money laundering charges on the night of the raid.
Shimmin ran his medical marijuana “resource center,” Kannabosm, at 401 W. 11th Ave. for more than a year before drug agents took him into custody and emptied his club of pot intended for distribution to state-registered medical marijuana cardholders.
That same night, detectives also seized the ATM from the business, along with cash and Shimmin’s Toyota SUV.
Absolutely no report about Kannabosm or any other patient resource center in Oregon causing an increase in crime or complaints from neighbors. Just an informant letting law enforcement know that money was exchanging hands, giving law enforcement all the motivation they needed.
Published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition