Kamal Hamid

Judge’s Ruling Sets Back Anti-Cannabis Lawsuit in Colorado

A federal judge in Colorado has ruled that Gov. John Hickenlooper and other Pueblo County officials cannot be named as defendants in a lawsuit that seeks to prevent the construction of a marijuana grow facility.

The lawsuit’s petitioners are two Pueblo County horse ranchers, Hope and Michael Reilly; and Safe Streets Alliance, a national anti-drug group. The suit alleges that federal marijuana laws supersede state ones, so the new cultivation facility in Pueblo County — operated by Rocky Mountain Organics — violates the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

“RICO was designed to allow people to go after the mafia in civil court,” said Attorney Matthew Buck, representing Rocky Mountain Organics. “Not for out-of-state special interest groups to go after local businesses for complying with Colorado law.”

A federal judge ruled that government officials are not subject to RICO claims. Pueblo County commissioner Sal Pace called the case a “frivolous lawsuit being pushed by an ideological agenda,” and said that fighting it has cost Pueblo County over $100,000.

The “horse rancher lawsuit” is only one of three civil suits filed against Colorado’s marijuana laws — all of them funded by out-of-state interest groups. Another lawsuit known as the “sheriff’s lawsuit” is funded by the Florida-based Drug Free America Foundation. DFAF’s founders were previously involved in an organization that ran drug abuse treatment centers—all of which were shut down after former clients alleged beatings, rape, and abuse.

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