Legal Pot Might Be Sued Out of Business

The original suit claimed that the aroma from a nearby marijuana grow made horse riding less pleasant.Thinkstock file photo

A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is raising eyebrows in the legal marijuana industry and the Denver weekly newspaper Westword warns that the litigation “… is based on federal racketeering laws, that anti-marijuana forces hope will help them destroy the marijuana industry here and throughout the country.”
At issue is an argument that a Colorado pot-growing operation damages neighboring property owners — they say their horse-riding experience is diminished by the smell from marijuana and other concerns, including construction. In its decision, the 10th Circuit effectively found that the plaintiffs’ use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute had merit because the adjacent property violates federal laws against marijuana, which is specifically mentioned in the RICO laws.
Westwood breaks it down: “This ruling could be game-changing. If the Reillys and Safe Streets Alliance succeed, other individuals or groups would be able to file complaints against marijuana businesses using RICO on a scale so massive that the entire industry could sink under the weight of litigation — or so opponents hope.”
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How Bizarre Pot Smell Ruling Could Destroy Colorado’s Marijuana Industry

First Marijuana RICO Case, Colorado Hotel Claims Lost Business in Civil Suit

Civil lawsuits continue to muddy the waters in states that have legalized marijuana, with a new Colorado case asserting that selling weed nearby has hurt business at a Holiday Inn. The Summit Daily News is reporting that “… nearly three months after two heartland states sued Colorado in federal court, a Frisco dispensary is now at the epicenter of the first-ever racketeering lawsuit filed against a marijuana business since the advent of legal weed.

On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Safe Streets Alliance named Medical Marijuana of the Rockies as one of 12 defendants in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case.”

The newspaper said that “… Safe Streets sponsored the lawsuit in partnership with co-plaintiff New Vision Hotels, the Colorado Springs company that owns the Frisco Holiday Inn. Frisco is a tourist-intensive mountain town just west of Denver.

Also from the SDN: “This is really the only course of action left for the hotel,” said Brian Barnes, the plaintiffs’ spokesman and one of several attorneys working the case. “They weren’t sure of other options available to them, and the reality is that when people talk about marijuana being legal in Colorado, it is still illegal in the United States and selling marijuana is against the law. They have a legal right to not be injured by that activity.”

The Holiday Inn managers had previously asked the Frisco Town Council to deny the license to the marijuana merchants who wanted to operate about 75 yards from the hotel entrance. The SDN reported that “… hotel representatives argued that a prospective marijuana dispensary has already harmed business, citing cancellations from several youth ski teams after the town council debates made national news.”

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