A cash management company is contesting in federal court the seizure of nearly $166,000 in Missouri medical marijuana profits that was taken during a traffic stop in Kansas while it was en route to Colorado.
The cash was taken by the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office in May through apparent coordination with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on the basis that it was obtained through sale of drugs illegal under state and federal law. In a legal filing in the U.S. District of Kansas, the company, Empyreal Logistics, contends the money was obtained lawfully and should be returned.
According to an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in Wichita, a driver for the company was pulled over on Interstate 70 near Abilene on May 17 for a traffic violation. The driver told the deputy she was passing through Kansas from Denver on her way to pick up cash from medical marijuana dispensaries in Kansas City, Missouri.
The driver was allowed to leave. The next day, she was watched by the DEA as she entered several dispensaries, court records show. She was then pulled over again on her way back to Denver by the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office for an unstated reason, the affidavit says.
The cash was found distributed into five separate bags, totaling $165,620, during a search of the company van. The driver confirmed to police that the money came from the dispensaries based in Kansas City, court records show.
In the federal affidavit, a special agent wrote that a drug-sniffing dog was brought in at an undisclosed location. The dog found that the currency smelled like marijuana. The money was seized on the basis that the money was obtained in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
In court, Empyreal Logistics is arguing that the U.S. government’s claims to the property should be denied.
“There is not evidence that the Subject Currency was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for an unlawful controlled substance in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (or) that the Subject Currency are proceeds traceable to such an exchange,” an attorney for the company wrote in court papers.
A hearing in regard to the legal dispute is scheduled to take place Jan. 4.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Missouri by a voter initiative in 2018. Recreational use is legal in Colorado, where the cash was destined. But the drug remains illegal in Kansas.