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This bill could stop the government from stealing money from medical cannabis users

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

The practice of civil asset forfeiture, where police can take money and things from people they think are involved in drug dealing without even charging them with a crime, is a big problem in the medical cannabis community. Millions of dollars have been taken from medical cannabis users from law enforcement officers who claimed they were involved in the drug trade. A new bill would stop that from happening.

The bill, the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, “amends the Controlled Substances Act to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by state law.” It has now been referred to a committee, and cannabis advocates are rallying to try to get it passed.

“The majority of US states and the District of Columbia now regulate marijuana access to either qualified patients or adults via state-licensed dispensing facilities. These operations need to be protected in order to assure adults with safe, above-ground access this state-sanctioned commodity,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, told Cannabis News Box. “Further, with the Attorney General having just rescinded Obama-era federal marijuana protections, it is imperative that members of Congress take action to stand up for their constituents — many of whom rely on these policies for their health and welfare, and who have repeatedly demanded federal legislators to amend federal law in a manner that comports with cannabis’ rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

This isn’t officers just taking the money that’s in someone’s pocket, either. They’re often stealing fortunes from medial marijuana patients and businesses that have done nothing wrong under state law. Take for instance the $325,000 taken from a medical marijuana grower in San Diego or the $455,000 taken from a medical cannabis patient in Arizona. It’s a massive problem that needs to be solved quickly, and if this bill passes, medical cannabis users will finally have the protection they need.

Cars, boats and many other expensive pieces of property that are believed to have been purchased with “drug money” can also be seized by the government. The money that is seized or the money that is made from selling the property that is seized often goes straight to the law enforcement agencies that did the seizing.

Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, civil asset forfeiture programs have actually been expanded, so things are even worse than when the previously mentioned sums of money were taken. Not only is Sessions opposing states legalizing cannabis, he’s setting up a system where more cannabis users and growers can have their property taken away.

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This bill could stop the government from stealing money from medical cannabis users