One of the biggest weapons that the DEA has used over the years to enforce marijuana prohibition is civil asset forfeiture. To explain what civil asset forfeiture is, basically if the cops think that a crime has been committed (very subjective) they can take first, ask questions later. It has created a lot of problems over the years, with people having their money and assets seized without ever even being charged with a crime. The DEA can literally go out and take money from people, and then use that money for other operations that go out and take money from people. For average citizens, that’s called theft. But if you are the federal government, that’s just called ‘carrying out your governmental function.’
A bill was introduced recently that would prevent the DEA from using federal asset forfeiture funds for marijuana seizures. Per Forbes:
A new bipartisan bill would eliminate a controversial source of funding for one federal marijuana seizure program. Last week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the “Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act.” The bill is quite simple: It would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Additionally, the bill would ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property “is used for any purpose pertaining to” the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.
Under this program, the DEA receives federal forfeiture funds ($18 million in 2013), which it then funnels to over 120 local and state agencies to eliminate marijuana grow sites nationwide. Last year, the program was responsible for over 6,300 arrests, eradicating over 4.3 million marijuana plants and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all plants destroyed were in California, which also accounted for over one-third of seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.
I had a good friend who bought and sold cars (he’s a mechanic) as a side job. He always operated legally. He drove a car to Illinois to sell for $19,000, and it was a cash transaction. On his way back to Oregon, he was pulled over about half way home. After the cops saw his Oregon license, they demanded to search the car. Having nothing to hide, he let them search his car, and even told them about the cash and why he had it. They took him to the station, held him for 19 hours, and then released him with no charges filed, and kept the cash. It was all of the money he had, so he didn’t have the resources to hire an attorney to fight it. It’s time to support civil asset forfeiture reform. Please contact your federal Representative to urge them to support this bill.