One of the most troubling examples of drug war tactics related to the militarization of the police is asset forfeiture. Frequently in the course of drug investigations, large amounts of money and property will be seized by law enforcement under the assumption that it represents profit from drugs sales. In many cases, police departments or federal law enforcement are able to keep this property even if no charges were ever filed, or if the rightful owner is found innocent of charges. More and more, it seems as if asset forfeiture is becoming a motivating factor in decisions about which suspects to target and when.
Marijuana dispensaries have become an easy target for agencies eager to boost their budgets and increase their chances of receiving federal Byrne grants, which are given out based on resources spent on drug enforcement and assets seized. Far too often in recent years, state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries have seen their locations raided by heavily armed agents who take anything of value (cash, computers, marijuana, confidential patient information), harass patients, and destroy anything they cannot take with them, yet do not file charges or find any evidence of state law violations. Such smash-and-grab tactics are a direct threat to property rights and due process and have done much to erode respect for the rule of law. In addition, the proceeds of asset forfeiture provide incentives for law enforcement to actively work against marijuana policy reform, as, in their perception, it directly threatens their budgets.