Civil Asset Forfeiture

State Legislators Reconsider Forfeiture Laws That Turn Cops Into Robbers

As reports of abuse mount, Michigan may join New Mexico and Montana in limiting legalized larceny.

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Michigan House of Representatives

Michigan cops seem to have have developed a habit of using forfeiture laws to commit what amounts to armed robbery of medical marijuana patients and caregivers. In my latest Forbes column, I note that state legislators, including the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have responded to these heists by supporting reforms that would make them harder to pull off:

When the cops raided Ginnifer Hency's home in Smiths Creek, Michigan, last July, "they took everything," she told state legislators on Tuesday, including TV sets, ladders, her children's cellphones and iPads, even her vibrator. They found six ounces of marijuana and arrested Hency for possession with intent to deliver, "even though I was fully compliant with the Michigan medical marijuana laws," which means "I am allowed to possess and deliver." Hency, a mother of four with multiple sclerosis, uses marijuana for pain relief based on her neurologist's recommendation. She also serves as a state-registered caregiver for five other patients.

Hency's compliance with state law explains why a St. Clair County judge last week dismissed the charges against her. But when she asked about getting back her property on Friday, she reported, "The prosecutor came out to me and said, 'Well, I can still beat you in civil court. I can still take your stuff.'" When she heard that, Hency said, "I was at a loss. I literally just sat there dumbfounded."

Hency told her story at a meeting of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, which was considering several bills that would make this sort of legalized larceny more difficult.

Read the whole thing.