When he visited relatives in Cincinnati the winter before last, Charles Clarke, a 24-year-old college student, took with him $11,000 that he had saved from wages, financial aid, and family gifts because he did not want to lose it. He did not count on the armed robbers at the airport, who took every last cent as he was about to board a flight back to Orlando in February 2014. Adding insult to injury, the thieves were cops, who justified confiscating Clarke’s life savings by claiming his luggage and cash smelled like pot.
More than a year later, Clarke is still trying to get his money back, and now he has help from the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that has been fighting this sort of forfeiture abuse for years. While Clarke admits that he was a recreational pot smoker, he says he was never involved in the marijuana trade. “I’m not a drug dealer,” he told Vox‘s German Lopez. “I never have been.”