The OC Weekly's Nick Schou reports that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped a forfeiture case against an Anaheim office building whose owner rented space to a medical marijuana dispensary, thinking it counted as a legitimate business in light of the signals the feds were sending at the time. After insisting at a hearing last December that they were "absolutely" proceeding with the forfeiture despite a judge's doubts, federal prosecutors changed their minds in recent months. At first they insisted that Tony Jalali, the software engineer who owns the $1.5 million property, promise never to deal with dispensaries again and agree to surprise inspections. In the end they were satisfied to be off the hook for Jalali's legal fees, in return for which they dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again.
Today the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California also dropped forfeiture actions against three landlords in Santa Ana and Los Angeles whose tenants have included dispensaries. "It's pretty amazing for them to come up and dismiss the cases, pretty unusual," says Matthew Pappas, a local attorney who represented Jalali together with the Institute for Justice. "I think its a a major victory for patients, for citizens in general." Pappas attributes the decisions to what Schou calls "the Obama administration's recent ratcheting down [of] the war on marijuana."