For members of a certain generation (raise your hands!), driving with drugs in the car was risky business. The police might profile you because of long hair or Peace bumper stickers, pull you over based on a flimsy excuse like a “dirty” license plate, conduct an illegal search of the car on a pretense, find some drugs and take you to jail.

At the same time, cash was not a problem. Your money was your money and police left it alone unless they could show it consisted of drug deal proceeds according to a tough evidentiary standard. As this article reports, today the opposite is true.

Most states have either legalized marijuana or provide no penalties and light warnings for possession of small quantities. At the same time, cash has become contraband.

This story concerns a car owner, Edward Phipps, whose car was searched by police after being pulled over for tailgating. Police searched the car with drug-sniffing dogs and found zero evidence of drugs in any form. However, they found $46,000 is cash, which belonged to Phipps.

There was and is no evidence that the cash was connected to any crime but they seized it on mere suspicion, and without proof of any wrongdoing. In order to get his car back, Phipps settled the civil case by giving up $39,000 of the cash. He got back $7,000 plus his car.

Are there constitutional objections to this confiscation of private wealth by state power? Sure. But, it’s not worth $39,000 to prove it.

Better to take your losses, and move on. We may be living in an age of “drug liberation,” but it’s also an age of “cash suppression” that’s part of the wider war on cash. In the eyes of state power, your physical cash isn’t yours; and it’s more toxic than formerly illegal drugs. Investors should act accordingly.

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