A Pennsylvania company is asking a federal court to return about $166,000 from legal cannabis companies that was seized by law enforcement in Kansas as it was being transported from Missouri to Colorado, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Federal prosecutors claim the money is subject to asset forfeiture because cannabis remains federally outlawed.
The cash was seized by a Dickinson County Sheriff’s Deputy during a May 18 traffic stop. The money was in a van owned by Empyreal Logistics, which transports cash for cannabis dispensaries. The driver indicated she was on her way to Kansas City and collected cash from cannabis companies and was released. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proceeded to surveil the driver picking up cash throughout the day.
On May 19, the same deputy pulled the van over and law enforcement seized five bags of cash. In an affidavit, the DEA agent said a drug dog “alerted to the odor of marijuana coming from the currency [and] marijuana is a controlled substance and illegal under both federal and Kansas state law.”
Empyreal Logistics contends that the government’s claims “should be barred as the conduct which generated the Defendant property was lawful under Missouri state law and tacitly or affirmatively allowed by the action of the United States Federal Government,” according to court documents outlined by the Capital-Journal.
While cannabis remains federally outlawed, in May, Attorney General Merrick Garland told a U.S. House committee that the Justice Department wouldn’t target state-legal cannabis companies. At that time, he said, “the department’s view on marijuana use is that enforcement against use is not a good use of our resources … in states where it is regulated.”
However, the Congressional Research Service wrote in a May 2020 report that “any activity involving marijuana that is not authorized under the [Controlled Substances Act] remains a federal crime anywhere in the United States, including in states that have purported to legalize medical or recreational marijuana.”
A scheduling conference for the case is set for January 4.
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