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Appeals Court Upholds Return of Cash in Pot Bust

A Joliet man is getting the $940 he lost to city cops when they found him in possession of a small amount of marijuana thanks to a ruling in the 3rd District Appellate Court. Anthony Alexander was never criminally charged when police executed a 2017 arrest warrant and seized the cash along with 4.5 grams of the drug. Despite Will County prosecutors saying he intended to use the money for a felony dope deal, Circuit Judge Carmen Goodman ruled Alexander was entitled to keep it under the state’s Cannabis Control Act, which classes possession based on amounts and offenses. Prosecutors attempted the asset forfeiture, saying Alexander improperly filed a motion to dismiss when he sought restitution.

A divided panel rejected the prosecution’s claim that proximity of the cash to the pot found packaged for sale in Alexander’s residence was proof he planned to make a bigger buy in a 10-page decision written by Justice Mary McDade. She and Justice Vicki Wright also said that the decision to charge him with an ordinance violation meant that Goodman was right to return the money. Wright added that the state’s failure to contest facts in the case meant that improper captioning didn’t apply under the Code of Civil Procedure. In a single-paragraph dissent, Justice Daniel Schmidt wrote that the arguments made by Alexander and relied upon by Goodman supported the prosecution’s allegation of felonious intent. Illinois will become the 11th US state to decriminalize recreational pot use at the turn of the year.