Leaf Nation Logo

Fed Court Deciding If Feds Can Take Legal Cannabis Cash

A federal court will decide if money from legal medical marijuana sales can be seized being transported through Kansas

Dougie Jones / Shutterstock

The DEA earlier this year seized money from legal medical marijuana sales in Missouri as the cash was being transported through Kansas. A federal court will soon decide if that’s legal.

Empyreal Logistics is fighting for the return of money, reports the Kansas City Business Journal. The cash was from medical marijuana dispensaries in Kansas City and bound for a Colorado credit union, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. The case highlights the legal gray areas resulting from the fact that cannabis is legal in some states, yet remains illegal under federal law.

Dickinson County Sheriff’s Deputy Kalen Robison seized more than $165,000 in May when he stopped an Empyreal van on I-70. Law enforcement stopped the Ford Transit van on consecutive days.

Van Pulled Over On Consecutive Days

Robison first pulled the van over on May 17 for an unspecified traffic violation, according to the affidavit. The driver told the deputy she was a Denver-based employee of Empyreal Logistics. She said she was transporting cash from Cannabis dispensaries in Kansas City, Mo., across Kansas to a credit union in Colorado.

The driver said she was on her way to Kansas City and would collect the cash proceeds from marijuana businesses. Law enforcement then released the driver with no charges. The DEA then surveilled the driver “stopping at and entering multiple state marijuana dispensaries” on the Missouri side of the metro, according to the affidavit.

One day after the first traffic stop, Robison again pulled over the Empyreal van along the interstate. The affidavit didn’t list a reason for stopping the vehicle this time.

A DEA agent claimed a drug dog later “alerted to the odor of marijuana coming from the currency,” reports Ganjapreneur. “[M]arijuana is a controlled substance and illegal under both federal and Kansas state law,” the agent noted in the affidavit.

DEA Special Agent Bryson Wheeler, stationed in Kansas, wrote the affidavit detailing the allegations of the case.

Driver Not Charged

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Kansas filed the civil asset forfeiture case last month in the U.S. District Court in Wichita. Federal prosecutors claim they get to seize the money. They cite federal laws against the manufacture and distribution of drugs.

Authorities didn’t charge the driver of the van with any federal crimes, U.S. District Court records show.

The company said the money came from lawful activity, not from “drug trafficking.”

The Empyreal website advertises cash management. “With our targeted technology, and low-profile, eco-conscious, armored vehicles, we can save you time and money,” the website states.

A scheduling conference for the case will be January 4.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.