It’s no secret that law enforcement and the cannabis industry have a tumultuous and strained relationship on the best of days.
Despite legalization in many states across America, there continue to be efforts by local police forces and state departments to undermine and hinder the efforts of licensed, legitimate marijuana businesses, whether medical or recreational.
In yet another setback for the rights and freedoms of the legal marijuana trade, armored car firm Empyreal Logistics has lost its fight to get a restraining order from local law enforcement officers. The request is part of a larger lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California last month.
Highway Robbery For Cannabis Transport Company
Empyreal claims that law enforcement officials have participated in “highway robbery” by targeting its corporate vehicles for the past year and seizing cash they knew came from state-legal marijuana businesses, according to a complaint filed last month.
In response, on January 14th, the cannabis transport company filed a complaint against the federal government and various law enforcement agencies. Empyreal Logistics, which operates in 28 states and serves as a cash courier for marijuana firms as well as other enterprises, alleges its constitutional rights have been violated.
Because law enforcement officers knew Empyreal was transferring cash revenues from marijuana companies, the firm claims they plotted to confiscate cash from its trucks through “pretextual stops of Empyreal’s armored vehicles.”
Despite the fact that no cannabis transport company employees were charged with a crime, officials used civil forfeiture statutes to seize more than $1 million from its armored vehicles.
As part of the suit, the Denver-based armored car firm requested a temporary restraining order prohibiting police from removing money from their vehicles.
In a frustrating turn of events, Judge John Holcomb of the United States District Court in Riverside ruled that Empyreal failed to meet the prerequisites for a restraining order.
According to the judge’s ruling, “Empyreal may very well have an excellent case on the merits – the court respects Empyreal’s zeal and does not doubt its sincerity – but Empyreal’s counsel does their client no favors by cutting procedural corners and ignoring the court’s guidance.”
Federal Cannabis Law Violations
Empyreal insists that the FBI violated federal law by taking cash earnings from marijuana sales, despite a federal statute prohibiting the US Department of Justice from interfering with state medicinal marijuana programs.
The lawsuit has prompted doubts about whether President Biden’s Justice Department is deliberately interfering with registered marijuana firms in California and the other 35 states where marijuana is legal. Marijuana possession and sale are still illegal under federal law.
This refusal to consider the biases and inconsistencies in the way law enforcement treats marijuana industry workers is a setback for the rights and freedoms of players in the legal cannabis trade. Federal authorities are blatantly ignoring the statute to leave state-licensed legal cannabis businesses alone.
While the outcome of this particular case is ongoing and hasn’t received the kind of response that the marijuana industry would hope, the company will continue to fight the alleged misuse of federal funds and unfair targeting of their business. Empyreal’s lawyer, Dan Alban of the Libertarian Institute for Justice, said the corporation would follow the court’s ruling and proceed with the litigation on a non-emergency basis. In other words, the story isn’t over.
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