Federal Asset Forfeiture

Another federal weapon against medical marijuana is property forfeiture. Federal law allows the government to forfeit real estate from owners or landlords who let it be used for marijuana distribution or cultivation. Since 2007, the DEA has sent letters to hundreds of California dispensary landlords warning them that their property is subject to forfeiture. So far, no forfeiture suits have been filed pursuant to these letters. Nonetheless, in Santa Barbara, the Department of Justice successfully forced landlords to evict their tenants by warning them that they would otherwise face certain forfeiture in 45 days (August, 2008). The DEA successfully invoked forfeiture after raiding the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (“LACRC”) in 2001. The LACRC’s building was actually owned by the City of West Hollywood, which had bought it as a gift for the club. The government had no trouble forfeiting it from the city, effectively closing the LACRC.

There is currently a bill, authored by Congressman Barney Frank, which appears to correct much of the process considerations that are at the heart of forfeiture injustice. Congressman Frank’s bill is currently in committee.

  • Are you trying to get your property back from the government? Money, marijuana, documents or other tangible items that government agencies took before charges were even filed?The reform geared toward correcting current asset forfeiture law deals most directly with seizures of property that can still happen even before charges are filed. In these cases, the accused and the victims face a manifestly unjust legal process where they have to prove the innocence of their property. The normal burden of proof, which is usually with the state, shifts to the accused and they have to prove they have a legitimate claim or interest in the property that the government has seized. This is unquestionably contrary to our constitutional protections! Therefore, congress is considering bolstering the due process protections afforded to victims, which will force the government to get a criminal conviction prior to even taking property that it alleges, is party to a crime.
  • Have any of you requested the return of property seized by DEA, USPS, or any state and/or federal law enforcement agency? This firm’s practices are based on, both civil and quasi-criminal asset forfeiture and the return of property and assets seized by law enforcement, whether state or federal. This includes the DEA, DOJ, USPS and other governmental agencies, which in most cases profit from seizing innocent defendant’s property even before they are charged with a crime.

    After the government agency takes the property and files a notice, you only have 30 days to make a claim with the correct agency and file the right paperwork; otherwise the government keeps it all! The governmental agencies are required to specifically list all the property that is taken, but these lists are seldom accurate and we implore our clients to detail all property that has been hauled away by the governmental agencies. Therefore,
    if your assets have been taken or removed, you need to call us immediately to start the legal process.

    Most seizures are related to a drug or medical marijuana raid/bust, a vehicle stop or even a DUI detention. Oftentimes, the governmental agencies will freeze or disable your bank accounts. You still have many rights and this firm will aggressively defend you at every step of the process. Our goal is to get your assets and bank accounts returned to you as soon as possible and the liens removed from your real property.