Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Published: Monday, February 7, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Orange County Register
Contact: [email protected]
For a brief period it looked as if federal authorities were going to
leave sick people who use marijuana medicinally alone for a while, at
least until Raich v. Ashcroft, the medical marijuana case currently
before the U.S. Supreme Court, is decided. But it looks as if they're
Last week the federal government filed to take by forfeiture the home of
Wesley Crosiar, 52, a medical marijuana patient who was growing 134
plants for himself and six other patients on his five acres of land near
San Andreas in Calaveras County, in the eastern Sierras southeast of
Civil forfeiture, sometimes called seizure, is a process whereby
authorities can seize property that is alleged to have been used in the
commission of a crime or represents the proceeds of criminal activity.
It has often been misused, because property can be seized when the
person who owns it has not yet been convicted of or even formally
charged with a crime.
The theory is that the property participated in the alleged crime, but
since this is a civil rather than a criminal procedure there's no
presumption of innocence and the burden of proof on the state is light.
After decades of abuse both federal and state forfeiture laws have been
tightened slightly in recent years, but they are still too permissive.
Themajor flaw is that the police agency seizing the property gets to
keep it or the proceeds of selling it, which creates a huge conflict of
interest and an incentive to get "seizure fever."
To be sure, marijuana cultivation is still illegal under federal law,
although cultivation for medical use is legal under California law. But
before Californians passed Proposition 215 in 1996, the feds hardly ever
went after cultivation that involved fewer than 1,000 plants.
This forfeiture action appears to be a deliberate effort to undermine
California's medical marijuana law, which federal officials have always
opposed. Too bad they are seeking to do so by victimizing sick people
rather than trying to invalidate the law by challenging it in court.
Newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should call them
Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News
CannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives