Criminal Court

Normally when someone sues naming every business or government agency with a relationship to a property owner the case gets kicked as a nuisance case.  But the rules change when the landowner being sued is a Colorado marijuana grower by the adjacent land owner in Federal Court under the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.)   Wait a minute; isn’t the RICO Act supposed to help fight organized crime? 

When you look at the facts about marijuana in the light of federal law it remains an illegal activity under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).   Almost every violation of CSA qualifies for RICO.  So even though the US Congress has prevented the DOJ from enforcing legalized medical marijuana it does not prevent private citizens from bringing suit under RICO.  A recent article in the ABA journal highlighted just such a case.

The Riellys (who are adjacent landowners to the marijuana farm) and Safe Streets Alliance (a nonprofit against marijuana use) sued in federal court under RICO; the 10th Circuit upheld their right to do so.  The Riellys are claiming diminished value to their land caused by the noxious orders of marijuana and the large quantities of illegal drugs being stored that could potentially attract a criminal element.

The Riellys still have to prove damages, but even if they do not every entity that was sued, including any law firms and accounting firms, are going to have to defend themselves.  Whether the Reillys get a dime from the suit, they taint the waters for anyone wanting to work with the marijuana industry which is likely their true intent.

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