Jim Bauer

Court of Appeals Revives ‘Horse Rancher Lawsuit’ Against Cannabis Cultivator

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a lawsuit by a Colorado horse farm which claims that a cannabis cultivation site near their farm diminishes their property values, the Associated Press reports. The case was first filed in 2015, but was dismissed by a federal district court, and the grow, operated by Rocky Mountain Organics, opened in 2016.

The horse farm owners, the Reillys, are trying to use federal racketeering laws to shut down the cultivation business, alleging that those laws entitle them to collect damages from the cannabis farm owners, despite cannabis’ legal standing under state law. The judge in the lower court had ruled that the Reillys could name neither Gov. John Hickenlooper nor Pueblo County officials in the suit, and the 10th Circuit Court judges upheld that ruling, but added that “the landowners have plausibly alleged at least one (racketeering) claim.”

Brian Barnes, a Washington-based lawyer representing the Reillys on behalf of national anti-drug group Safe Streets Alliance, called the 10th Circuit decision “a tremendous victory for opponents of the marijuana industry.”

If the lawsuit is successful, it could open the door for other opponents to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against legal cannabis businesses. The case will be kicked back down to the federal district court that had originally dismissed it.

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