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Federal Judge Allows Cannabis Racketeering Lawsuit to Move Forward

A U.S. District Court judge in Oregon will let a racketeering lawsuit brought by a vineyard against a neighboring cannabis cultivator move forward after the vineyard showed evidence of a financial loss since its neighbor began operations.

Full story after the jump.

An Oregon U.S. District Court judge is allowing a racketeering lawsuit by a wine vineyard against a neighboring cannabis company to move forward, ruling that there is enough evidence that the vineyard suffered a financial loss due to its neighbors’ operations, the Associated Press reports.  

Momtazi Vineyard, located in Yamhill County, opposed the cannabis farm’s business license in 2017 saying that the “skunk” stench is “not acceptable in wine” and the farm would “put the vines and wine at great risk.” They sued Yamhill Natural in April claiming they had lost six tons of grapes, said Jessie Mondry, an Oregon cannabis attorney with Harris Bricken who is not involved in the case. The court had ordered the plaintiffs to show a specific loss in order to proceed. 

Mondry said that at least two other racketeering lawsuits against cannabusinesses had been filed in the state but had been dismissed. In those cases, plaintiffs argued that cannabis legalization had caused “diminished use or enjoyment” of their property or increased security costs.

“It changes the playing field in that the court has shown a pathway to bring racketeering claims against marijuana farms. I don’t know that this is going to open the floodgates. At least they know now what they need to do so survive a motion to dismiss.” — Mondry, to the AP

The defendants argue that the vineyard can not actually prove any financial losses and that the lawsuit’s primary claim — that there is a commercial grow on the property — is a lie and the grow is a small, personal, medical cannabis crop. They have asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit on those grounds is pending.

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