Recognition of the U.S. Attorney Community for Employing Asset Forfeiture Remedies as Part of a Coor

Adopted at the 119th Annual Conference

San Diego, CA
October 3, 2012 

Recognition of the U.S. Attorney Community for Employing Asset Forfeiture Remedies as Part of a Coordinated Enforcement Effort against Medical Marijuana Distribution
Submitted by: Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee
NDD.015.a12 

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program encompasses the seizure and forfeiture of assets that represent the proceeds of, or were used to facilitate federal crimes; and 

WHEREAS, asset forfeiture powers enhance public safety and security by removing the proceeds of crime and other assets relied upon by criminals and their associates to perpetuate their criminal activity against our society; and 

WHEREAS, asset forfeiture has the power to disrupt or dismantle criminal organizations that would continue to function even after specific individuals are convicted and incarcerated; and 

WHEREAS, marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and impaired cognitive and immune system functioning, among other negative effects; and

WHEREAS, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which prohibits the manufacturing, distribution or dispensing, or the possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance, making such acts a federal crime, regardless of state laws that permit such activities; and 

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States; and 

WHEREAS, the U.S. Attorney community recognizes the importance of partnerships and coordination to employ asset forfeiture tactics to seize the proceeds of individuals and organizations involved in the manufacturing, distribution or dispensing of medical marijuana, a violation of the Controlled Substances Act; and 

WHEREAS, several of the U.S. Attorneys have taken the initiative to send letters to property owners, landlords, and marijuana dispensary operators warning that those who knowingly facilitate the actions of marijuana traffickers are subject to asset forfeiture as well as potential criminal prosecution and civil penalties; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Andre Birotte, Jr., filed asset forfeiture lawsuits against properties housing marijuana operations in Santa Barbara County, executed search warrants, and sent warning letters to individuals associated with illegal marijuana stores; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, filed civil forfeiture complaints targeting properties that housed retail marijuana stores, and sent notice letters to owners of properties in several counties where marijuana is being cultivated and sold; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Melinda Haag, citing the need to address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the State of California, filed asset forfeiture actions against two properties housing one of the largest marijuana dispensary operations in the United States; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, Laura Duffy, sent letters to several marijuana dispensaries, warning that they must shut down or face possible prosecution and forfeiture of their properties; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, John F. Walsh, sent warning letters to every marijuana dispensary operating within 1,000 feet of a school, advising them to cease operations or to face enforcement action, including but not limited to civil asset forfeiture of the properties involved; and 

WHEREAS, for example, then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Dwight C. Holton, sent notice to owners, operators, and landlords of Oregon marijuana dispensaries advising them of the illegality of the sale of marijuana pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act and the potential for criminal and civil actions including civil forfeiture; and 

WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, Peter F. Neronha, sent a letter to the Governor of the State of Rhode Island, advising that large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution is contrary to federal law and that individuals and entities who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries could face injunctive actions to prevent cultivation and distribution of marijuana through civil fines, criminal prosecution, seizure of the controlled substances, and seizure and forfeiture of any personal and real property used to facilitate the production and distribution of controlled substances; and 

 WHEREAS, for example, the U.S. Attorneys for the Districts of Washington, Jenny A. Durkan and Michael C. Ormsby sent a joint letter to the Governor of Washington advising that conduct that undermines the federal government’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing, and trafficking of controlled substances could be subject to the forfeiture of any property used to facilitate a violation of the Controlled Substances Act as well as civil and criminal legal remedies; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) duly assembled at its 119th Annual Conference in San Diego, California, commends the U.S. Attorney community for their leadership, partnership and coordination to employ asset forfeiture remedies to address the use of property for the unlawful possession, manufacturing and trafficking of medical marijuana.