A federal judge ruled that the government lost its opportunity to seize a medical marijuana dispensary when it accepted $150,000. In May 2013, the federal government filed a forfeiture complaint against the owners of a property in San Francisco. The complaint accused the tenant of selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of the school, in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The landlords agreed to pay $150,000 in lieu of forfeiting their interest in the property. They also admitted that the property was admitted to being used to sell marijuana (which, subjects the property to forfeiture law).
A federal judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the court no longer has jurisdiction over the real property because it collected the sum of money. According to Courthouse News, the settlement agreement nullified any claims that the government would have had to seize the property. After collecting the $150,000, the government alleged that the property owners would have to do more than pay the initial amount. The government claimed that the property owners would also have to satisfy additional terms in the settlement agreement. Though these terms were not explicitly discussed in the claim, the judge assumed that the government was referring to a clause that required the property owners to “assist the United States in good faith.”
According to the ruling, the plaintiffs were released from additional responsibility after paying the $150,000 in lieu of a property forfeiture. Court documents indicated that the $150,000 was paid in September of this year. Advocates for the plaintiffs were satisfied with the ruling, happy that the court was able to effectively dismiss the claim. The lawyers involved in the defense also hope that the decisions shifts the position of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco when dealing with forfeiture cases. They are hoping that the recent decision will lead to the dismissal of other pending cases.
Currently, there are other pending cases involving the government’s attempt to seize the Harborside Health Center in San Jose and Oakland. This case involves a lawsuit against the federal government in an effort to stop the seizure of property. According to the judge, since the government never seized the property and collected the payment, it gave up its claim and released the property form the legal action. The government attempted to use the settlement agreement as leverage, but the court concluded that the case should be dismissed because of a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The case was essentially moot after the payment was made.
Forfeiture cases in California are complicated and should be handled by an experienced marijuana attorney. Our Orange County marijuana crimes defense attorneys represent dispensary owners and other individuals who are being investigated or charged with federal crimes. We will review the facts of your case and aggressively defend your rights in any civil or criminal matter. We can also help to ensure compliance with local, state and federal regulatory standards to avoid liability.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
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