The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to return more than $1 million in seized marijuana funds to settle a lawsuit filed last year by a California cannabis business lawsuit alleging “highway robbery.”
Funds at issue belonged to Empyreal Logistics, an armored car company based in Pennsylvania that was targeted by local and federal task forces in San Bernardino County in November and December. As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand it, the cars were carrying cannabis business cash in conjunction with legal marijuana operations in California. A task force comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the San Bernardino County sheriff’s office resulted in confiscation of cash.
While the company was operating legally under state law, the problem is the conflict with existing federal forfeiture laws, which open the door to target even compliant businesses. This is not new. Civil forfeiture law has enabled law enforcement agencies to seize millions from legal business proceeds – with threats to keep it. That’s precisely what happened here – and Empyreal Logistics sued.