Couple’s Lawsuit "To Block Legalization Of Marijuana" Goes To Trial

By Victoria Kim 10/29/18

The Colorado couple say they have been “injured by a conspiracy to cultivate recreational marijuana near their land,” according to the lawsuit.

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A couple of disgruntled property owners in Colorado are taking their neighbor to court over growing cannabis, which they claim has brought down the value of their property.

According to the original lawsuit filed on behalf of Hope and Michael Reilly, “growing recreational marijuana is ‘noxious, annoying or offensive activity’ by virtually any definition because marijuana plants are highly odorous, and their offensive smell travels long distances.”

The lawsuit, filed in 2015, saw its first day in Denver federal court on Monday (Oct. 29). Colorado has had a legal market for cannabis for adults 21 and older since January 2014.

The Reillys, who own a little over 100 acres of rural property in Rye, Colorado, say they have been “injured by a conspiracy to cultivate recreational marijuana near their land,” according to the lawsuit.

It’s now up to a jury to decide if the Reillys have a case. Similar lawsuits against state-legal cannabis operations have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon, according to the Associated Press.

The neighbor targeted in the Reillys’ lawsuit is Parker Walton, who purchased 40 acres in Rye in 2014. Since then, he has built a 5,000-square-foot indoor cannabis growing and harvesting facility on his land, to sell his product to retailers.

The defense says it can prove that the Reillys’ property value has not been harmed. In fact, according to the AP, the defense will argue that tax valuations of the couple’s property have gone up over time.

Lawyers for the Reillys are suing under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), federal anti-racketeering laws established to target the Mafia in the 1970s. In this case, RICO allows private parties to sue claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise, AP explains.

If they can prove their case, they may be financially compensated for three times the damages plus attorneys’ fees.

According to the Safe Streets Alliance, which filed the Reillys’ lawsuit, the lawsuit could impact the future of other state-legal cannabis operations.

“In addition to shutting down the operations targeted in its suit, Safe Streets hopes that its use of the federal racketeering laws will serve as a model for other businesses and property owners who have been injured by the rise of the commercial marijuana industry,” reads its website.

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