If you or your cannabis business has had currency seized by the government, attorney Michael R. Hughes may be able to help you recover those funds. Hughes Law provides comprehensive legal and cannabis business consulting services to growers, processors, retailers, and investors in Oregon and throughout the nation.
Why Does a Currency Seizure Happen?
One of the not-so-secret secrets of the federal government’s “war on drugs” is that it is actually a war on tax evasion. Historically, the trade in illicit substances has been a cash-based industry. When people exchange cash for goods or services, Uncle Sam has a hard time getting his cut of the deal. This is one of the reasons why the government has authorized law enforcement officials to seize property — including cash — when it is suspected that those assets are the fruit of criminal activity or helped facilitate criminal activity.
Cannabis businesses operate in a legal gray area, with local and state officials allowing them to operate while the federal government continues to outlaw the growth, exchange, and use of many cannabis products. Unfortunately, this means that cannabis businesses operate under constant risk of the government deciding they are a criminal enterprise rather than a legitimate business.
If the government decides to come after your cannabis business, it is likely they will seize any cash on the premises. Getting that money back can be challenging. Attorney Michael R. Hughes, who is himself a hemp farmer, and is therefore intimately familiar with the challenges faced by those trying to make a living in the cannabis industry, is ready to hear your side of the story and help you find a path forward.
Cops Have An Incentive To Seize Cash
Forfeiture laws give the government the authority to seize any property that is the fruit of criminal behavior or could conceivably be used to facilitate criminal activity. The government gets to keep a large chunk of that money to fill budget gaps. Law enforcement officials often get to use forfeited money as a slush fund.
The more cash law enforcement officials seize, the more money the government has to play with. It gives them an incentive to smash and grab as much as possible.
You can see a breakdown of assets seized under Oregon law and reported to the Asset Forfeiture Oversight Advisory Committee (AFOAC). Federal seizures are documented by the federal Department of Justice. Each year millions of dollars are seized and kept by the government.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
When Oregon was debating some changes to its forfeiture laws back in 2000, a commercial on the issue struck a chord with many Oregonians:
“My name is Harry Detwiler,” the ad began. “I am 62 years old. I was a special education teacher at Ashland High School for 25 years. I was Oregon’s Special Education Teacher of the Year in 1972, and was named Ashland’s Man of the Year twice.
“My problems began in 1997, shortly after my son and I sold a former rental property. The new owner was arrested for growing marijuana. During the arrest, police found my name on some of the man’s paperwork….”
Detwiler went on to say that police then took $35,000 from his own home’s safe under what Detwiler described as “civil forfeiture laws”.
“They said I should have known the man who bought my home was growing marijuana,” he said on the ad. “For three years, I have fought unsuccessfully to get my money back. …In America, people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But that’s not how asset forfeiture laws work.”
As this story suggests, recovering currency that has been seized by the government is not an easy task. Even if you are not guilty of any crimes, it can take years to clear your name and get your money back because you must prove your property is not tied to criminal activity in any way. As those who work in the cannabis industry know, this can be a delicate subject when state and federal authorities butt heads.
Hughes’ legal knowledge and personal experience in the cannabis industry give him an edge in these cases because it is really where these two areas meet that matters. Showing the legitimate sources of the money and demonstrating how and why the business had cash on hand is just as important as crafting a sound legal argument.
Contact An Oregon Currency Seizure Attorney Who Understands Your Side
Attorney Michael R. Hughes’ cannabis industry experience and legal work on behalf of those in the industry is unmatched. Growers, processors, retailers, and investors in Oregon and throughout the nation count on him to provide accurate and actionable advice in this rapidly changing industry.
If you have had currency seized by the government, Hughes can help you fight to get your money back and clear your good name. He has the legal knowledge, business savvy, and experience in the cannabis industry you need on your side when the government threatens your livelihood. Reach out today to schedule an initial consultation.