October 30, 2018, Colorado
Colorado has an established legal marijuana industry for a long time. Cultivation, processing and retail operations of cannabis have now reached a certain level of normality. However, a recent lawsuit against a marijuana cultivator will change things and ruffle some feathers.
The hearing on the lawsuit is going to start in Denver’s federal courtroom soon. The lawsuit is filed by a couple who owns a pasture adjacent to a commercial cannabis cultivation site. The couple contended that a persistent foul smell from the facility has badly disturbed their comfort and decreased the value of their land.
An anti-cannabis group Safe Street Alliance has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple against Alternative Holistic Healing LLC, the company that owns this cultivation facility. The marijuana cultivation facility in question was set up in 2014 when the local government launched an incentive program to encourage the growth of the legal marijuana industry. Parker Walton, the owner of Alternative Holistic Healing, brought this land and established indoor and outdoor cultivation system.
Misuse of RICO Act
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act is the part of federal legislation. The act was actually devised to strengthen the legal fight against organized crimes. It has enabled many claimants to recover losses inflicted by organized crime activities. In 2017, the US Court of Appeals has allowed the plaintiffs to litigate the cultivators under RICO. Before that, anti-pot groups had already dragged some cannabis businesses in the court by using the provisions of RICO.
Experts think that a trial based on RICO can destroy the budding operations of any legal cannabis business. The inappropriate use of RICO against legal cannabis businesses is a sad reminder that how hostile are the federal laws against cannabis.
As per the filled lawsuit in Colorado, the plaintiffs allege that the cultivation of adult-use marijuana is an offensive activity because of the strong odious smell of the plant that can travel long distance. They also assert that the ever-present odor has badly affected their time on the pasture and also resulted in deprecating the land. Therefore, they have asked the court to order the culprit company to compensate for the depreciation of the land under RICO and also asked it to stop the cannabis cultivation.
Rob Mikos is a law professor at the University of Vanderbilt with the specialization in drug law. While talking to a local newspaper, Mikos maintains that the plaintiffs’ counsel has to convince the jury that they have suffered any noticeable harm from the cultivation facility.
Regarding the evoking of RICO’s clause for loss compensation, Mico believes that it will be really hard for the council to prove that the value of the land has depreciated after the development of the cultivation site because the county tax record shows otherwise. Moreover, the court is not going to evoke RICO for the land depreciation involving a few thousand dollars. Experts think that the verdict of this lawsuit will have far-reaching consequences. And not just for Colorado, but other legal states too.
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