Logistics company objects to seizure of cannabis cash in Kansas

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

An employee of Denver-based Empyreal Logistics recently faced a police seizure. Federal prosecutors claimed that she was breaking U.S. law by transporting cash from medical cannabis dispensaries in Kansas City, Missouri, to a Colorado-based credit union. 

The driver was not charged with a criminal offense, despite the fact that cannabis   although legal in Colorado and Missouri is still illegal in Kansas. 

Nonetheless, federal prosecutors said the money which totaled almost $166,000 should be relinquished because U.S. law bans the production and distribution of federally illegal narcotics, including cannabis.

In September, a federal magistrate judge ruled that there was probable cause to confiscate the money since it had been earned through illicit drug sales transactions. Empyreal officials contested the federal officers’ argument by claiming that the funds were earned in a law-abiding manner.

The ruling occurred after the civil forfeiture action was filed in the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas. Moving forwards, a hearing is set to take place in January.

Missouri’s cannabis business owners are concerned about the cash confiscation incident

October of 2020 saw the official launch of Missouri’s medical cannabis industry. Although it’s still in its nascent stages, the industry is on-track to generate more than $200 million in sales by the end of this year. 

However, since most banks won’t accept money earned through the state’s legal market, most of Kansas City’s dispensary owners stash the money in bags before driving 700 miles to deposit it in a Colorado financial institution.

Unfortunately for the Empyreal employee, things didn’t go as planned on May 17. It was on this date that a law enforcement officer confiscated the cannabis funds approximately 150 miles west of the city in Missouri. 

With the Missouri Bankers Association anticipating that the market will eventually be raking in $480 million annually, banking institutions may want to wake up to the fact that they could be missing out on a fruitful collaboration with the state’s cannabis companies.

Adult-use cannabis legalization is on the horizon in Missouri 

Regardless of the sticky situation that medical cannabis business owners in Missouri may be finding themselves in, there is some good news: two fresh adult-use legalization proposals have been filed to the secretary of state’s office. 

Based on a statement published on the Secretary of State’s website, Legal Missouri 2022 submitted an initiative on August 27 and Fair Access Missouri filed two recreational cannabis initiatives on September 1

Before any of the adult-use cannabis legalization proposals can be considered for a vote next year, they must first undergo review. If one or more measures are certified, there’s a good chance that they’ll be voted on successfully. 

A previous effort to place a question on the November 2020 ballot the initiative asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would regulate cannabis in the same way as alcohol fell flat. Fortunately, the fate of future cannabis reform proposals in Missouri appears to be much brighter.  

Why? Because a local poll conducted in 2019 indicated that “a strong majority supports legalizing the adult use of cannabis.” Consequently, this strong support triggered the formation of pro-cannabis group Missourians For A New Approach. 

Currently, the State of Missouri has issued 192 cannabis retail licenses and 80 cannabis cultivation licenses.