In January 2016, James Slatic’s San Diego medical marijuana business, Med-West Distribution, was raided by a narcotics joint task force that destroyed the entrepreneur’s facility and ability to continue serving an extensive patient list.
While it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much Slatic lost as a result of the government effectively closing his business, San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan greenlit a $295,463 refund to Slatic on Friday — including $5,484 in interest.
Slatic, who also received over $100,000 of his money back from the government in May when they released family bank accounts that had been frozen in the aftermath of the raid, can now ride into the sunset as an American marijuana folklore legend. Why? Because there aren’t many (relatively) happy endings to asset seizure stories.
During the nearly two-year-long nightmare, Slatic, his family, and his business had their bank accounts frozen and property seized, all under the guise of civil asset forfeiture, a practice that promises to keep the streets clean of “dirty money.”
In May, when Slatic got the first wave of reimbursement via the thawing of accounts including his daughter’s college savings, he had yet to be charged with a crime.
Just two weeks later, former DA Bonnie Dumanis charged Slatic with 15 felonies for allegedly conspiring to process and distribute hash oil nationwide. The serious charges were on the table until about a month ago, when Slatic agreed to a plea deal that amounted to two misdemeanors, which were handed down with a $1,000 fine and one year of informal probation — a far cry from the decades he would have faced if found guilty of the felony charges.
The larger chunk of money returned to Slatic came as part of a settlement that included his forfeiture of $35,000 of the original amount seized, 10 percent of which would be donated to Community Alliances for Drug Free Youth.
But let’s not overlook what Slatic managed to pull off here. In an era where the marijuana industry generates billions of dollars of cash but is forbidden from using traditional banking solutions specifically established to protect legal businesses like these from theft and other perils of commerce, this capeless cannabis hero managed to essentially open a corporate weed savings account. Not only was his pile of cash practically federally-insured — they surely didn’t let it out of their sight — but Slatic also scored an unheard of 1.9 percent interest return over two years.