Asset forfeiture can best be described as the fuel that keeps the engine of cannabis prohibition pumping. Whether it’s law enforcement seizing the assets of suspected “drug dealers” or just flat out robbing motorists on the side of the highway, the money gleaned from these forfeitures pads the budgets of the agencies doing the seizing.
But what happens if marijuana legalization could affect those funds? Well, you’d use some of those funds to fight against legalization!
That’s what is happening in Arizona right now. The “Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking” Task Force in Yavapai County, Arizona, recently gave $50,000 to a substance abuse group that is fighting a Marijuana Policy Project plan to bring legalization to the AZ ballot in 2016.
You read that right. The task force is giving $50,000 to an effort that is fighting to keep cannabis illegal, which will result in more forfeiture money going to that task force. How is this legal, you may ask? Depends on who you know.
For example, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says it’s all good, holmes. You see, it’s just for education purposes — even if that “education” isn’t wholly factual or backed by science. The substance abuse group, MATFORCE, can even run TV ads with the money!
You can imagine what those ads will say… Marijuana is a gateway drug, marijuana is addictive, marijuana will make you unable to get off the couch and do anything meaningful with your life so I hope you love that couch because that’s where you’re going to die. Oh, and edibles will make you shoot someone in the face and jump off a balcony. None of it true, all of it easily refuted with some quick Google searches, yet it will be on TV, paid for by funds seized by law enforcement.
To battle this, those who support legalization in Arizona will need to raise even more money to buy advertising — an uphill battle made even tougher by those who benefit financially from the status quo.