The federal government no longer wants to try and seize an Anaheim office building owned by Tony Jalali, who was charged last year for renting out space to Remedy Tree Collective, a state-legal medical cannabis dispensary.
Google maps. 2601 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim, California.
Though prosecutors aren't commenting on the agreement, we're guessing it stems from the fact that the feds have deemed such cases to be a waste of resources when related to state-legal marijuana shops.
"I was shocked when the government first sued me and I realized that civil forfeiture meant the government could take my property from me even though I was not charged with any crime," Jalali said in a press release through his attorneys. "I did not want to be bullied and stood up to the government to protect my property and my reputation."
Jalali, an Iranian emigrant who came to the U.S. in the late 1970s, was among nearly 30 California landlords charged by the government with assisting illegal drug dealers - since that's all medical marijuana patients and caregivers are to the feds. Jalali says he evicted the medical marijuana dispensary when charges were filed and has been unfairly targeted by overzealous prosecutors.
The building that the feds were trying to seize had an assessed value of $1.5 million.
Jalali's attorneys argued from the beginning that since their client had no ownership stake in the dispensary (or any involvement at all besides cashing their rent checks), the feds were unconstitutionally trying to take away Jalali's personal property.
"Civil forfeiture should not be used as a punishment for a property owner who committed no crime," Jalali's attorney Larry Salzman told the Associated Press. "This is a case that should never have been filed."
Most of the other landlords settled out of court, with about two-dozen signing agreements forbidding them from renting out to medical marijuana dispensaries in the future. The landlords were also fined, with the feds reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal prosecutors tried to squeeze the same out of Jalali, but he fought back. And now, seems to have won. The case is being tossed and can not be brought up again.
The decision comes as public opinion on wasteful government spending related to cannabis is at an all time high. On top of that, recent memos to federal prosecutors from the Attorney General's office have made it clear that prosecuting marijuana businesses following state law should be left alone so long as there are measures in place to regulate the industry. Jalali wasn't even a marijuana business. He was a landlord following California law and allowing a legal business to operate in his property.
The absurdity of the whole thing is pretty clear to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention. It's just too bad that those other landlords were fleeced out of their hard-earned, legal money by bully prosecutors.