By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On October 30, 2018, a federal trial in Colorado could have far-reaching effects on the United States’ marijuana industry if a jury sides with a couple who say having a cannabis business as a neighbor hurts their property’s value. The Denver trial is the first time a jury will consider a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target cannabis companies.
The couple bought the Colorado land for its views of Pikes Peak and built a house on the rural property. But, they claim “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana grow operation have hurt the property’s value and their ability to use and enjoy it.
Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana businesses licensed by states but still violating federal law. Suits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.
Why This Suit is A Big Deal.
Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants. The anti-racketeering law also allows private parties to file lawsuits claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise. Those who prove it can be financially compensated for damages times three, plus attorneys’ expenses.
In 2015, those who opposed the marijuana industry decided to use this strategy against marijuana companies along with investors, insurers, state regulators and other players. A Denver-based federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that the couple could use anti-racketeering law to sue the licensed cannabis grower neighboring their property. Insurance companies and other entities originally named in the couples’ suit have gradually been removed, some after reaching financial settlements out of court.
The question now is whether the jurors will accept the argument and agree to the amount of $1 million.
Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly and stay on top of the latest news.
To read another blog I wrote on a medical marijuana case in Colorado, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.
The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.
“Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” The Associated Press. (October 30, 2018). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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