Photo by Todd Lappin/Flickr Creative Commons
Rick Barry and Brian Clemann, two former cops turned licensed cannabis distributors, knew what they were in for when California Highway Patrol (CHP) pulled them over late last year. The duo had just finished a day of legal weed deliveries; and ended up turning over more than $250,000 in cash and the firearms they were transporting.
Nearly a year of legal battles later, the pair has successfully reclaimed all of their cash from the feds, which essentially sets a new standard for the return of seized funds from state-legal marijuana sales. In your face, pigs!
According to the Sacramento Bee, once the current CHP officers took custody of Barry and Clemann’s legal weed cash, the agency transferred the money to federal officials at the department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CHP assumed that the federal government would withhold the federally illicit money forever. But after the ex-cop ganjapreneurs sued the state of California to challenge their arrest, they discovered that CBP officers never filed the required forfeiture paperwork, necessitating a full refund.
“CHP believed, mistakenly, that by turning the legally-derived funds over to federal authorities, they could put the money out of legal reach and hobble California’s emerging cannabis industry,” said Matthew Kumin, Barry and Clemann’s attorney, in a written statement. “The case underscores that CHP’s efforts to shore up a failed and widely reviled drug policy is coming to an end.”
Barry and Clemann started their cannabis delivery company, Wild Rivers Transport, in the wake of legalization after both had retired from longtime CHP gigs. With plenty of experience on California’s highways, the pair was able to successfully transfer their previous job skills into the Golden State green rush. And in the case of their state lawsuit and confiscation reversal, they will be remembered for setting new precedents for the legal cannabis industry on a whole.
“The case highlights what every licensed medical cannabis operator operating in any state that allows medical cannabis must know: that they can now successfully challenge any federal forfeiture involving cash or medical cannabis seized by or turned over to federal authorities,” Kumin said.
Barry and Clemann are still facing misdemeanor charges stemming from the possession of loaded and concealed firearms at that fateful 2018 traffic stop, but the $257,733 of cash that was taken from their business has officially been returned.
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