Federal prosecutors continue to employ asset forfeiture as their weapon of choice in their new offensive against medical marijuana in California. California Watch reports:
U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, whose district includes Imperial and San Diego counties, said marijuana advertising is the next area she’s “going to be moving onto as part of the enforcement efforts in Southern California.” Duffy said she could not speak for the three other U.S. attorneys covering the state but noted their efforts have been coordinated so far.
“I’m not just seeing print advertising,” Duffy said in an interview with California Watch and KQED. “I’m actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It’s gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate – one has to wonder what kind of message we’re sending to our children – it’s against the law.”
Federal law prohibits people from placing ads for illegal drugs, including marijuana, in “any newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication.” The law could conceivably extend to online ads; the U.S. Department of Justice recently extracted a $500 million settlement from Google for selling illegal ads linking to online Canadian pharmacies.
Duffy said her effort against TV, radio or print outlets would first include “going after these folks with … notification that they are in violation of federal law.” She noted that she also has the power to seize property or prosecute in civil and criminal court.
Again, Duffy seems to be avoiding criminal charges, which run a substantial risk of failure, in favor of threatening businesses that associate with the medical marijuana industry with forfeiture, which is extremely costly for property owners even if they beat the odds and prove victorious in court. The federal government possesses a variety of methods to impose its will on states that have the temerity to assert their constitutional prerogative when it comes to police powers. In recent years, however, asset forfeiture has proven the lowest cost, least confrontational means for the feds to bring a rebellious state to heel, and that’s why it poses such a grave threat to federalism.