A California cannabis distributor has lost the first round in what could prove to be an important test case in determining the role of the federal government in cracking down on marijuana companies.
A state judge in California Superior Court in San Francisco County declined on Feb. 25 to issue a preliminary injunction against the state highway patrol.
The injunction request was part of a lawsuit filed in December by a licensed distributor who claimed law enforcement officers called in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seize more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash during a traffic stop.
The plaintiffs, Humboldt County-based Wild River Transport, had asked for an injunction against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in order to prohibit the involvement of the federal government in such cases.
Judge Ethan Schulman wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs failed to establish that CHP “has a policy of targeting licensed cannabis businesses in California for purposes of forfeiture.”
Matt Kumin, one of the attorneys representing the MJ distributor, said he and other lawyers in the case can pinpoint several instances in which licensed distributors have been stopped and their funds seized.
The difficulty, however, has been in convincing other licensed companies to come forward to support the lawsuit.
“The judge was like, ‘This looks like a one-off,'” Kumin said. “We may have to do discovery and get the CHP to tell us all the instances where this has happened.”
Kumin added that the case is ongoing and a “tentative settlement” with CHP is possible.
However, he said, it may be several months more before the case is resolved or advances in the court system.
John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]