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Marijuana legalization and forfeiture

Proponents argue that civil forfeiture tactics are necessary to help police fight serious crime.[38] It is seen as a vital and powerful weapon in the continuing battle against illegal drugs,[11][24] and effective at discouraging criminal activity.[13][28] It makes it easier for law enforcement to fight organized crime when they had trouble imprisoning offenders, since they could deprive them of their property and income when it is much harder to prove their guilt in a court of law.[8]

Prosecutors choose civil forfeiture not because of the standard of proof, but because it is often the only way to confiscate the instrumentalities of crime. The alternative, criminal forfeiture, requires a criminal trial and a conviction. Without civil forfeiture, we could not confiscate the assets of drug cartels whose leaders remain beyond the reach of United States extradition laws and who cannot be brought to trial. Moreover, criminal forfeiture reaches only a defendant’s own property. Without civil forfeiture, an airplane used to smuggle drugs could not be seized, even if the pilot was arrested, because the pilot invariably is not the owner of the plane. Nor could law enforcement agencies confiscate cash carried by a drug courier who doesn’t own it, or a building turned into a “crack house” by tenants with the knowing approval of the landlord.