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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia (AFP-WV), West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, and an influential coalition of local and national organizations today sent a letter to the West Virginia State Legislature urging swift action during the upcoming legislative session to address the Mountain State’s failing civil asset forfeiture policies.
In the letter, signers highlight a recent federal example of asset forfeiture overreach that threatens West Virginia agriculture—afflicting legal industrial hemp farming. The letter also addresses the overall scope of West Virginia’s harmful forfeiture laws which have caused the state to boast the 13th highest total forfeiture seizures in the country between 2000 and 2013.
Joining the coalition letter and the ongoing calls for asset forfeiture reform, Commissioner Leonhardt said: “The founders of our country sought to protect the private property of citizens as the basis of our union. U.S. Congress’s intent, as well as state laws show support for legal industrial hemp programs. The most recent actions by the U.S. Attorney is a blatant overreach by a federal bureaucrat. The lack of criminal charges filed by the office calls into the question the motivation for pursuing the lawsuit.”
AFP-WV State Director Jason Huffman echoed those sentiments, adding: “No innocent West Virginia citizen or business owner deserves to have the government permanently confiscate their property without being convicted of, or even charged with a crime. It’s high time for lawmakers to ensure that Mountaineers’ property rights are safeguarded.”
Others signers to the letter include: Freedom Partners, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, American Civil Liberties Union-West Virginia, FreedomWorks, Right on Crime, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership.
Recently, AFP-WV State Director Jason Huffman co-authored an op-ed with AFP-NJ State Director Eric Jedynak that appeared in the WV Gazette-Mail on a separate civil asset forfeiture incident that occurred in West Virginia.
For further information or an interview, reach Nicole Tardif at NTardif@afphq.org or 571-329-0161.
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