New Federal Bill Would End Marijuana Forfeiture Slush Fund

The Business of Marijuana

The Business of Marijuana

A sweet new bill with bipartisan support is seeking to cut off all funding for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) generated through asset seizures.

According to Forbes, The “Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act” was introduced mid-September by (D) California Representative Ted Lieu, and (R) Michigan Representative Justin Amash. The DEA’s new legislative nemesis would work like this; the bill would preclude the DEA from utilizing any and all federal forfeiture resources to further its domestic campaign of terror, a.k.a. the Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

In 1979, Hawaii and California were the first states to feel the sting of the feds new tool used in the War on Drugs. Shortly thereafter, the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Act had spread like a disease throughout all 50 states in the US. Since it’s unfortunate introduction, the program has been responsible for widespread misery from coast-to-coast; in 2014 alone there were 6,310 arrests, $27.3 million seized, and more than 4.3 million plants destroyed. Currently, the asset-freezing program collects approximately $18 million annually in federal funding, largely from accused marijuana cultivators and their distributors.

What has people concerned over this money-grab of a program is the bulk of its asset seizures are anything but criminal. Rather most of these transgressions are civil in nature. In the real world, an individual must be convicted of a crime for criminal forfeiture to occur. Unfortunately, civil forfeiture lacks the requirement of any conviction or criminal charge for the federal government to grab your personal assets, cash, or other items of monetary value.

The ugliest and most simplistic explanation of civil forfeiture is this, the police aren’t required to demonstrate you’re guilty of anything to seize your property … However, you will need to prove your lack of guilt to get it back.

This newest bill is similar to another defensive piece of legislation passed last year, an amendment authored by (D) California Rep. Sam Farr and (R) California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher. Their anti-seizure legislation was added to the 2014 and 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Spending Bill. Working towards the same goal, their amendment banned the use of any federally seized assets from being utilized for raids in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

The most notable change in the newly offered Bill, is the new program would provide a permanent fix to problem of overzealous federal government illegally grabbing cash from those legally operating a marijuana business in states that are sanctioned their operations. Rather than having to renew each year by vote the Omnibus Appropriations Spending Bill.

*Not one to miss an opportunity to shine the light of irony of our legal system, John Oliver rips into the unjust nature of civil forfeiture in the below video.