Medical Marijuana

Over $455,000 Seized from Medical Marijuana Patient Slapped with Civil Asset Forfeiture

Patient says "there's no such thing as innocent until proven guilty"

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Friday that local and state police would no longer be able to use federal law to seize cash and property using civil asset forfeiture in most cases, restricting the DOJ's Equitable Sharing program that allowed them to split the proceeds from seizures with federal agencies.

Last August, Reason TV profiled a particular civil asset forfeiture case in which law enforcement seized over $455,000 from a medical marijuana patient. 

Written and produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. About 5:45 minutes. Original release date was August 25, 2014, and original writeup is below. 

In March 2013, Steve Oates' home in Goodyear, Ariz. was stormed by police, SWAT, and DEA agents because of a marijuana grow room in the guest house. 

"It was like something you see in the movies. It was 6:30 in the morning, and basically you hear 'bang! bang! bang!' on the door, and next thing you know you hear the crash of a battering ram," says Oates. 

Oates' doctor had recommended medicinal marijuana for Oates' chronic back pain, so he attained a medical marijuana card with cultivation rights. Dispensaries were still few and far between at the time, and Oates didn't trust Craigslist for his medicine.

MMJ Card

"I felt like the next alternative was to grow it ourselves," says Oates. Oates met a few other patients who shared concerns about underground marijuana channels, and they decided to start growing together. Oates had their entire supply during the raid, which ended up being more than the permitted amount that he could grow with cultivation rights. He pled guilty to possessing under two pounds of marijuana. 

But the conviction ended up being the smallest price that Oates had to pay. Goodyear Police Department brought Oates' case to the Attorney General, who consequently slapped Oates with over $455,000 in civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture is when the government can seize property and finances that they suspect have a connection to illicit activity. However, they sue the property instead of the person, so there doesn't have to be a related conviction. 

"That's what they're claiming, is that the market value of the sales that he allegedly made was $455,000," says Oates' attorney John Moore. "They don't have any proof or any evidence that the property that they are trying to forfeit is related to the crime of his possession of marijuana for sale." 

Oates says that between property taken, bank accounts seized, and legal fees, he has actually lost over $600,000, but that he would "rather spend every dollar on an attorney than just let [law enforcement] have it." 

Moore is helping Oates fight to get his assets back, yet says it's easier said than done. 

"In a typical civil case, it's the plaintiff that has the burden of proof. But in a civil forfeiture case, it turns­­ out it's actually the defendant that has to show where this money came from," says Moore. "We have to show by preponderance of the evidence, that this money that they are trying to forfeit came from legal means.

Moore adds that Arizona has a direct incentive to utilize asset forfeiture because unlike other states, Arizona law enforcement gets to keep seized funds for their own departments. 

"Their focus is on raising revenues instead of actual law enforcement itself," says Moore. "Instead of going after real drug dealers who are transporting across state lines or criminal gangs that are creating great crime and personal injury to people, they're going after an individual because they know he had funds in his bank account."

About 5:45 minutes.

Written and produced by Tracy Oppenheimer, who also narrates. Camera by Zach Weissmueller. Featuring "Vibe Drive" by Podington Bear. 

Scroll down for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel for notification's when new material goes live. 

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83 responses to “Over $455,000 Seized from Medical Marijuana Patient Slapped with Civil Asset Forfeiture

  1. There’s nothing civil about civil forfeiture, you greedy pigs!

    Did you oinkers go home to your spouses and boast, “today I helped screw over a patient with chronic back pain, stealing his goods and ruining his life, just to send a message to smelly hippies!”

    1. Where’s Dunphy to tell us how he’s *personally opposed* to this sort of thing, but nevertheless Mr. Policeman is our friend (unless he has a supervisory position, or dunph testified against him, etc.)?

      1. It’s all for the greater good, you see.

        1. If your property did nothing wrong, then it has nothing to fear.

          1. Nobody needs more than 7 assets.

  2. Speaking of personally opposed:

    “”Abortion-centered feminism is dead,” [president] Dannenfelser [of the prolife Susan B. Anthony List] told a crowded press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday morning. “It’s the most important thing I’ll say today.” She noted the casualties on the Democratic side, a string of senators who campaigned on women-centric platforms, heralding the move away from “traditional Jane Fonda feminism” to the historic legislative moment that SBA List and its allies believe exists with a “common-ground” bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.”

    From the opposing press conference by Planned Parenthood head honcho Cecile Richard:

    “…[recently-elected Republican Senator Cory] Gardner also called for the over-the-counter sale of birth control pills. Asked if common ground could be found there, Richards appeared dubious, pointing out it wasn’t that long ago that insurance companies did not cover birth control. “We can thank Viagra for that,” she added. Now that insurance companies have been shamed into covering birth control, Richards said she does not want women to lose insurance coverage if the pills are sold over the counter.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…..g-way.html

    1. She noted the casualties on the Democratic side, a string of senators who campaigned on women-centric platforms…

      Will feminists finally acknowledge that men are human beings, possessed of moral agency, and not the root of all evil? Equally important, will feminists finally acknowledge that women are human beings, possessed of moral agency, and not quasi-divine creatures akin to Hindu cows that men are responsible for making sure nothing bad happens to them?

      ….

      NAH!!!!!!!

    1. Dr Ed Hawkins, associate professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said the past 15 years had seen a slightly slower rate of warming.

      But he added: ‘You have to take a longer view, because 15 years is too short a period. We expect natural fluctuations, volcanic eruptions and changes in solar output to sometimes slow and sometimes increase warming rates.’

      1. Yes, we have to look back much further, to a time when we have incomplete data, so that we can make stuff up.

      2. “…the past 15 years had seen a slightly slower rate of warming.”

        Well, which is it? I’ve been told that the last 15 years have shown cooling, and now I’m being told that the RATE of warming is slowing down.

    2. Flim-flam artists caught in another lie. Knock me down with a feather.

  3. Fan theory regarding “The Avengers” and “The Guardians of the Galaxy”.

    The members of the first group are playing an RPG as members of the second group.

    1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Honest Trailer:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOyJqGtP-wU

  4. Man, American Sniper has really driven people fucking crazy. I saw people comparing it to the Nazi propaganda film from the end of Inglorious Bastards despite the fact that American Sniper is clearly not an unambiguously pro-war movie.

    Here’s my favorite stupid oblivious comment about this movie:

    Aided by an evocative script culled from Kyle’s autobiography by Jason Hall, Eastwood eschews his conservative leanings to make a surprising, but subtle, anti-war film that captures the cumulative costs of battle on a man, a family and a nation drawn into a conflict it had no business fighting.

    Jesus Christ, do you not have to know anything about movies to be a film reviewer these days? Eastwood made Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. In the first of those movies, he deals with the serious emotional collapse of one of the characters as a result of what he saw in war. Eventually that character descends into alcoholism and dies in a gutter after a binge.

    In Letters from Iwo Jima, you see American soldiers executing Japanese prisoners and Japanese soldiers committing suicide with hand grenades.

    Eastwood clearly finds war repugnant, all of his movies prove that, and yet people either a) don’t realize American Sniper isn’t pro-war or b) act surprised it’s not pro-war despite Eastwood’s earlier films on the matter.

    1. They grade conservatives on such a curve, it’s easy to meet their expectations.

      “Although a conservative, Eastwood manages not to drool all over himself.”

      1. The best part is that they claim the anti-war aspects come from entirely from the script writer, despite the fact that Eastwood has a history of making films that are critical of war.

        He must be a war monger though because he’s nebulously conservative. I’m not even convinced he is a conservative. I think he’s pro-Republican but has a bit of a libertarian/anti-war streak in him.

        1. And notice that Clint Eastwood is being “subtle,” which is of course the reverse of conservative!

          That’s why the idea that “progressives have a monopoly on subtlety and nuance” is unfalsifiable – because when a supposed conservative shows subtlety and nuance, he becomes an honorary liberal, like the Japanese visitors to apartheid South Africa who became honorary whites.

          Because we know how subtle the lefties are with their sophisticated, advanced-seminar-level discussions of “war on women!” and “Koch Brothers!” and “racist!”

        2. I think he’s pro-Republican but has a bit of a libertarian/anti-war streak in him.

          This was Reason’s take in 2012:

          https://reason.com/blog/2012/08…..ibertarian

    2. Of course, because TEAM Blue abhors warfare and violence…unless it is drone strikes done by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and based on the arcane science of Disposition Matrices.

      Never let a little thing like the truth get in the way of political tribalism, eh TEAM Blue?

      1. I was sitting in a political science class during the early days of the Libya intervention, and our professor asked who was in favor of the West getting involved. This was a lecture of probably 200 people in the hippy dippy leftist paradise of Madison, Wisconsin, and 3/4ths of the class raised their hands in favor of the war.

        Clearly they were still all giddy about Obama becoming president so they decided that if he wanted to go to war, it was a much cooler war than when that doody head Bush did it.

        I’ve never seen a better example of left-wing hypocrisy than I did in that instance. If Libya had gone to shit in 2007 and Bush had argued in favor of intervention, none of those people would have supported it.

        1. Nope. TEAM trumps all in American politics. The few lonely voices declaring “this doesn’t make sense no matter who does it!” are clearly anti-government extremists who want to put ya’ll back in chains, beat women, throw grandma in the street without her medication, fill smog-factories with child laborers, and murder-rape Gaia with oil wells.

          Or something.

        2. Libya was not a war you idiot. It was an internal citizen uprising.

          1. A nuanced, evidence-based, holistic, kinetic military action!

            1. Not a “war” – only Republicans do that stuff.

            2. It is amazing how the Bush fans here are prepping for ol Jeb by ameliorating the Iraq War fiasco.

              1. List all of the Bush fans that comment here.

                1. PB is Bush’s #1 fan; he’s the only one that consistently brings the guy up.

                2. Why do you guys try to equate the Iraq War with Libya? It is more of a fuck up on the scale of Vietnam. And fuck LBJ too.

                  1. Palin’s Buttplug|1.18.15 @ 8:10PM|#
                    “Why do you guys try to equate the Iraq War with Libya?”

                    Why are you such a lying turd?

                    1. Why do you guys try to equate the Iraq War with Libya?

                      Because in both cases Obama’s handling of he situation paved the way for radical Islamists to take power?

                  2. I’m not equating Iraq with Libya. They were very different operations.

                    They both also happened to be horrible ideas, one of which got a pass from the left because it was supported by the Lightbringing All-Father we mere mortals, in our hubris, have dubbed ‘Barack Obama.’

          2. From the NYT of all publications;

            “THE president who won the Nobel Peace Prize less than nine months after his inauguration has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.”

            And what we are doing in Iraq now is not a war either.

            Lying shreek is a liar.

            1. Was Obama’s kill of bin Laden a war? We actually invaded a country to depose a leader.

              1. Sending troops to shoot people is not war, dummy. Dropping bombs on other countries is not war. Shooting missiles at people is NOT war.

                Unless you are a BushPigHitlerPeanut. Then it is war.

                1. SB, please don’t entertain the monkey. He’s just flinging poop.

                  1. I was amusing myself by provoking his very transparent trolling. It’s slow around here. I was bored. I apologize.

          3. Libya was not a war you idiot. It was an internal citizen uprising.

            Which involved the implementation of a no-fly zone, had American and French planes flying bombing missions, and the United States unquestionably had military assets in the country directing bombing runs.

            We had CIA operatives on the ground providing intelligence and military assistance to rebels. We also sent two of these motherfuckers.

            I don’t know what your definition of a war is, but when we send two AC-130 gunships to a combat zone, I consider it to be one.

        3. I remember being on a forum back in 2008 where people were thrilled to see Putin and the neo-Soviets bomb Georgia because apparently Georgia supported Bush in some foreign policy issue (or Bush supported Georgia against Putin, I don’t rmember which).

      2. Didn’t you read the Richman thread this morning? Bo very clearly correlates conservatism with war mongering. In fact, according to him it is what defines conservatism. Because the Hildebeast is such a dove. Or something.

        Also, if you disagree you don’t belong on this site.

        1. You’re collectivizing movie reviewers!!!

          1. It is amazing how many of them have a left-statist view of the world, though, and have no problem injecting politics into reviews.

            Consider the cultural shibboleth that “OMG the suburbs are bland and conformist and that’s terrible and it was even more the case in the 1950s!” I don’t know how many reviews of the films of Douglas Sirk or other films that touch on the topic where I’ve seen people give glowing reviews because the movie is saying something important about the evils of suburbia.

            Or films that have the right thing to say about minorities. Philadelphia was terible in that it made Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner look subtle. But Tom Hanks’ character was gay! How can you say anything unkind about the movie!

            1. Consider the cultural shibboleth that “OMG the suburbs are bland and conformist and that’s terrible and it was even more the case in the 1950s!” I don’t know how many reviews of the films of Douglas Sirk or other films that touch on the topic where I’ve seen people give glowing reviews because the movie is saying something important about the evils of suburbia.

              This is especially awesome given that there is nowhere on Earth more blandly, irritatingly conformist than a white, left-wing enclave in a major American city.

            2. Consider the cultural shibboleth that “OMG the suburbs are bland and conformist and that’s terrible and it was even more the case in the 1950s!” I don’t know how many reviews of the films of Douglas Sirk or other films that touch on the topic where I’ve seen people give glowing reviews because the movie is saying something important about the evils of suburbia.

              This is especially awesome given that there is nowhere on Earth more blandly, irritatingly conformist than a white, left-wing enclave in a major American city.

      3. ” because TEAM Blue abhors warfare and violence..”

        Except when it’s the violence the state threatens you to coerce you to live how the Progressive THeocracy wants you to live.

  5. Radley Balko kicks the tires of Holder’s new civil-forfeiture policy:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ure-abuse/

  6. Stupid punk cops, this is why I REJOICE everytme I hear on the news about some stupid cop getting clipped in the line of duty.

    http://www.Anon-Best.tk

    1. Shut up, you idiot, youre going to draw attention from the feds and get us all pinched.

    2. Slow down there, slim, i don’t think that’s the point of the article. It’s about legal reform to curb certain abuses, not assassinating people.

      But I see why you’d want anonymity.

    3. I think SOMEbody has been spending too much time in the Hit and Run comment section………

  7. It is Eric Holder, so I am suspicious. I have held my tongue on the matter and will continue to do so until I see what effect this has. If it truly does rein in asset forfeiture then I will be stunned. Having to put up with Holder might end up being worth the pain. This could be the most significant gain for constitutionalism in my memory. But….it is Eric Holder. We will see.

    1. It’s rooted in misogyny. Because women never say things like that to other women.

      1. So…women hate women? Are we allowed to even say that?

    2. It is trolling. Nobody says any of that shit.

      I went and looked at the staff for that rag. Holy fucking Gods what a collection of wasted meat that is.

    3. “So, honey, too ugly or crazy to find a man, huh? That’s all right, if a guy has the right beer goggles you might almost look normal.”

      (note: I never said this, either, but if you’re looking for offensive remarks, let’s go for broke)

    4. “What’s Hot Right Now”
      6 Reasons Why Being Called a Cis Person Is Not Oppressive

      No one say it’s oppressive, because the people who object to the word “cis” also don’t say that words are “oppressive.” That description is usually saved for oppression in the material world.

      And I only glanced at the article, particularly the third one “You’d Be More Attractive If You…” I’m going to guess that this person has been called a cunt more than once in her life.

      1. I often say “Do you know how that outfit would look better?” When she says no I say “Lying on the floor”.

  8. Ahh, thank goodness for the wisdom of actors:

    Robert Redford says support for Keystone pipeline shows Republicans are living in the 1950s.

    Thank goodness he supports 19th century technology to provide our energy needs!

    1. What is it about the 1950s which gets their panties in a bunch? I mean, if you were Chinese the 50s would have been a very nasty decade, but what is it about *America* in the 50s which gets their goat like this?

      Why not “Republicans are living in the 1910s” or “Republicans think it’s 1660?”

      1. The 50’s were bland and conformist, which was way worse than the totally nonconformist cocaine binges, mass shootings, and economic crises of the 1970s.

      2. Ostensibly the values that they hate so much were at their zenith in the 1950’s. In their minds, anyway.

        Most Americans then didn’t tolerate the leftist bizarro wackadoodle shit, and they hated and feared communists. The left was at its lowest point in 1950’s America.

        That is my guess.

        1. The left was at its lowest point in 1950’s America.

          Even this doesn’t make sense, since leftists constantly tell us we should go back to the hyper-unionization of the 1950’s and should re-implement the higher tax rates.

          The next time a leftist says we should have more unions, I should inform him that he’s trying to take us back to the 1950’s. I’d love to see the reaction to that.

          1. Yeah, I see that cognitive dissonance too: conservatives are living in the past i.e. the 1950s because they think Leave it to Beaver was accurate. Us progs are forward thinking because we support windmills, trains, having the same job for life, etc. etc.

            Also, many leftist academics belief conservatives and libertarians like the 1950s b/c women & blacks knew their rightful place.

            1. Orphans knew their rightful place, too – in the monocle mines!

              1. Just thinking about it brings tears of nostalgia.

            2. I forgot about the racism angle.

              The truth is that all of the things that go on today were going on then, it just wasn’t out in the open like now.

              1. The racism angle can be pretty insidious: there is the implication from some people that the stability & prosperity of the 1950s happened in large part BECAUSE of the oppression of others. I’ve tried to understand the explanations but it is beyond me.

                Not, of course, that I’m endorsing everything about the 50s. It’s just weird that progs all think their political opponents want to return to segregation, etc.

          2. They love the 50s now. “Everybody trusted the government!” They can’t confront the “why” of why people no longer trust the government.

            1. Kochspiracy.

    1. OK, so it’s written by a guy who writes for Huffpo.
      Meta irony? Slipped mask? Nasty competition?
      WTF goes on there?

      1. HuffPo, for all its faults, is a much larger, more diverse site than Salon or Slate. Recall that Balko had a stint there between his time at Reason and his current position at WaPo.

        As another example, David Boaz, executive VP of Cato, has contributed a handful of articles there (HuffPo likes free content).

        So merely writing for them, even regularly, is not prima facie evidence of proggieness.

        And even if this particular guy is a prog — and he very well may be — I imagine there are plenty out there who think Salon is ridiculous.

    2. The Iowa hate group, ‘Drunks With Guns! U Loot We Shoot’

      LMAO

      1. Cletus Huckleberry. I did laugh.

  9. uffPo, for all its faults, is a much larger, more diverse site than Salon or Slate

    Yes, this is true. The amount of stupid there is far larger than on Salon or Slate, even if it’s directly a result of the number of totally stupid comment posts.

    HuffPo is absolutely ridiculous. It seems to me that their only reason for existing is to paint every single Republican as a Nazi demon from hell and every single democrat as a saint from heaven.

      1. UffPo is the news and opinion aggregator for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right?

  10. Why do you rob citizens?

    Because that’s where the money is.

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