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I had heard about this case before, but wasn’t aware of any of the details until reading this story in the OC Register.

Tony Jalali has never faced federal charges, yet the federal government wants to seize his office building because he rented space to a medical marijuana dispensary.

Even though medical marijuana shops are allowed in California, the businesses are outlawed by the federal government. As a result, federal prosecutors are using a law that allows them to confiscate property linked to criminal activity.

“The government’s role is to stop these types of stores from proliferating in cities that don’t want them” said Steve Welk, an assistant U.S. Attorney. “The government’s role is to stop these types of stores from proliferating in cities that don’t want them.”

Jalali had no connection to the dispensary, Releaf Health and Wellness, and evicted the tenants just days after the property forfeiture case was filed last year, said his attorney, Larry Salzman of the Institute for Justice. The defense team is asking a federal court to dismiss the case and allow Jalali to keep the building at 2601 W. Ball Road, valued at $1.5 million.

You can read the whole article here.

I fully support Anaheim’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries; a recent state Supreme Court ruling permits Anaheim and other local governments to enact such bans, and I think such actions fall squarely within the police powers of state and local governments.

But the fact remains the medical marijuana dispensary in question wasn’t Jalali’s, and it is unfair and unjust for the government to seize his property. i have no problem with asset forfeiture laws when they are applied to the property of drug dealers; but it is another thing altogether when the government abuses them to go after the property of individuals who are not involved in the criminal drug trade.

Whatever the City of Anaheim can do to prevail upon the feds to back-off Mr. Jalali, it ought to do.

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