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How The Police Tried To Steal Millions In Cash From Legal Cannabis Companies

By Terry Hacienda, The Fresh Toast on

Published in Cannabis Daily

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus is a prime example of what can go wrong when the police force does not watch what happens to the cops. Here’s why.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.

One of the biggest headaches with running a legal cannabis business is the cash. Since cannabis is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, it’s nearly impossible to store the cash you’ve made through your state-licensed cannabis business anywhere else. And that leads to another problem: security.

Because most licensed cannabis businesses operate and transact almost entirely in cash, they have become the top target of thieves and robbers. They’ve had to resort to other creative solutions to ensure that their legally-made cash profits are safe, turning to businesses such as transporting cash in armored cars. And then you have bad apples like Sheriff Shannon Dicus who comes and exploits the situation. Who Is Sheriff Shannon Dicus? Dicus is the 36th Sheriff-Coroner appointed for the San Bernardino County in California, the biggest county in the United States.

The sheriff campaign website reads that he is a “proven public safety leader for San Bernardino County”. However, he has been running a very dirty scam hurting legal cannabis business owners. According to the equitable sharing program of the U.S. Department of Justice, the sheriff’s department can keep as much as 80% of the cash that has been collected through civil forfeitures, except in California, legal cannabis money can’t be seized by cops. The Crime Investigations revealed that San Bernardino deputies have been seizing cannabis money from armored cars, which they then transferred to the FBI, saying that it was to be used as proof for investigations.

Beginning November 2021 through January 2022, armored vans from Empyreal Logistics, which transports money from cannabis businesses, had to give up around $1.1 million in cold, hard cash from legal cannabis sales. Reports from the San Bernardino Sun state that Dicus thought the seizures done by his department were justifiable.

 

“During the stop, the deputy made further observations, including hearing inconsistent statements made by the driver and company representatives, that led the deputy to believe that the contents of the van were illicit proceeds of unlawful drug sales,” said Dicus regarding a November 16 seizure from an Empyreal van.

Deputy J. Franco was able to get a search warrant then confiscated $700,000 which legitimately belonged to four state-licensed marijuana businesses.

Then again, something similar happened on December 9. The same van of Empyreal changed lanes without a signal. It was also found that they used a document to instruct the Empyreal driver how to react should they be pulled over by law enforcement. “Specifically, the document instructed the driver to ‘never say the words cannabis or marijuana’ and ‘never say the names of the banks or clients we service.” A cool $350,000 was seized from Empyreal on that date.

No citations were issued just like in the November stop.

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