In 2014, U.S. police seized more citizens’ property without a conviction, than all the country’s burglars stole.

Posted on May 19, 2016

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Asset forfeiture and the prison industrial complex.

In 2014, U.S. police seized more citizens’ property without a conviction, than all the country’s burglars stole.

Marijuana is the number one drug arrest in America and in many cases, possession of marijuana has allowed law enforcement to seize assets without so much as a court hearing. Whenever a defendant has no assets worthy of seizure, they get an invite to our justice system.

After approving medical marijuana, California is poised this year to legalize recreational marijuana via the initiative process with a law co-sponsored by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. If approved, there will be 20-60,000 less court appearances over marijuana each year, less jail and prison overcrowding and substantially less reason for some backwoods sheriff to seize your car for that roach in your ashtray.

So it should be of no surprise that those who cherish asset forfeiture and exploit human incarceration would wish to see no change in the status quo and are spending money to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Now if the initiative had been written to include random drug testing of police officers, prison and jail guards should it fail, you can bet your life that they would be co-sponsors.

Too bad we can’t write initiatives that way.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize or are not old enough to know that mis-classifying a naturally occurring herb under federal law was really done to discriminate against “hippies and people of color” as a way to criminalize the anti-war protesters, courtesy of Richard Nixon.

In response to millions of tons of cocaine coming over the border in the 1980’s, this war was severely escalated with mandatory minimums and asset forfeiture by Ronald Reagan and “Just say no” transformed into an epic backfire.

Since then, three generations of people have lived in the shadow of breaking the law with pretty much hippies and people of color being the only ones charged or convicted. Everyone else has either been left alone or experienced civil forfeiture in lieu of criminal charges.  Today, most people languishing in prisons and jails are there for some drug related offense when drug addiction is a medical issue and should not be a legal issue.

On November 8th, you will have the opportunity to partially right a social injustice and end the war on hippies and people of color that should have never started in the first place.

You will go to the ballot box and end a substantial reason for civil asset forfeiture here in California and join the other 61% of Californians that support this initiative to end the era of prohibition on weed. That should be followed up by expunging all marijuana conviction records in a future initiative so that people can work, get student loans for college and be eligible to join the military.