Last Friday, the sheriff’s office in San Diego confiscated large amounts of marijuana and marijuana products from an allegedly illegal marijuana dispensary using asset forfeiture. In the early morning hours last Friday, the sheriff’s office searched and seized about 100 pounds of marijuana and other drug products at a store on 3000 Oro Street in El Cajon.
News reports do not specify what made the dispensary illegal; It is not yet clear whether that label was due to a paperwork error or some other factor. Marijuana has been legal for recreational use in California since 2016.
According to the sheriff’s department report, the seized items are 97 pounds of marijuana, 150 pounds of THC vape products, 330 pounds of edibles and drinks, 22 pounds of THC concentrates, around $6,609 cash, and a gun. Although they haven’t provided any information about how much the seized items cost in total, they did serve a warrant to search the place for these drugs. It isn’t known who owned the gun or whether they had a permit. It is not clear whether the owners of the store have enlisted the services of an attorney.
The sheriff’s report says the seized products were in common chips and candy packaging. They reiterated the dangers of children buying and consuming these drug-laced edibles and stated that this is a prevalent way for peddlers to sell drugs. In California, you must be 21 years of age or older to purchase recreational marijuana products. It is not yet known if the dispensary is accused of selling to younger patrons.
After the drug bust, authorities arrested four individuals and charged them with drug crimes related to the case. The Code Compliance Department additionally found the building to be dangerous to occupy. It sent a request to the county gas and electric company to shut off the power on the property. The case is ongoing.
Police departments in the whole country often come under fire for exercising asset forfeiture. Property rights critics cite numerous instances of alleged police abuse when it comes to seizing assets. As a result, most people view civil asset forfeiture in a bad light.
Regardless of the public’s opinion, the statutes allowing law enforcement to take property as a civil action have persisted in practice for many years. The system is justified as a necessary drug deterrent measure under the ongoing war on drugs.
According to the “Policing for Profit” survey published by the Institute for Justice, California has good civil asset forfeiture laws. The state was rated a C plus for often requiring a conviction before forfeiture. The government also has to prove the guilt of a person before keeping their assets. The only exception is in taking property involved in drug cases, and even then the value of the assets seized must exceed $25,000. For these drug cases, state law requires only clear and convincing evidence to take away property.
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