DOJ to return $1 million in marijuana proceeds

Four months after San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies seized $1.1 million in licensed marijuana products from an armored car company, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will return the money, the Institute for Justice (IJ) announcement Wednesday (April 13).

Under the terms of the settlement, the DOJ OK to return all funds confiscated from a pair of Empyreal Logistics armored vehicles by law enforcement.

Cash Logistics Service funds were transferred to federal law enforcement for civil forfeiture proceedings.

The FinTech and armored car company operates in 28 states. Their services include secure delivery between businesses and financial institutions. The company does not transport cannabis.

In January, Empyreal filed a court case arguing that all confiscated money funds were financial institution deposits from state-sanctioned and state-legal cannabis operations.

“Empyreal has always considered itself a partner of financial institutions and law enforcement,” said Empyreal’s CEO. Deirdra O’Gorman in a report. “Our service increases transparency and makes communities safer.”

Senior Attorney IJ Dan Alban said that while Empyreal operates legally under California law, compliant companies may be targeted by federal donor civil forfeiture laws. Civil forfeiture allowed law enforcement to seize legal trade products and threaten to hold them, he added.

In exchange for returning the funds, Empyreal said it would dismiss its case against the federal government.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that cashless ATMs had been used to process $7 billion in cannabis transactions.

Read more: Cashless ATMs Hide Cannabis Transactions Estimated at $7 Billion

Legal cannabis retailers have had problems facilitating payments due to the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal. The ongoing conflict with banks makes it nearly impossible for stores to accept payments other than cash.

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