The marijuana business had been sued for damages under anti-racketeering laws. The case was seen as a major threat to the state’s cannabis industry
By John Ingold | The Colorado Sun
A southern Colorado marijuana grow facility did not hurt the property values of a neighboring couple, a jury in Denver decided Wednesday, ending a closely watched lawsuit that had hung like a dark cloud over the state’s cannabis industry. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as the RICO act, allows plaintiffs to collect three times the amount of damages that jurors find plus attorneys’ fees, meaning that marijuana businesses — which are illegal under federal law and, thus, in violation of RICO — could be on the hook for million-dollar payouts over simple property disputes. Instead, jurors deliberated for about half a day before reaching a verdict in favor of the facility, which sits about 2 miles east of Interstate 25 near the town of Colorado City. They found that we were not responsible for any of the alleged damages,” said attorney Matthew Buck, who represented the grow and its owner, Parker Walton. A loss, in this case, would have meant the loss of his business,” Buck said.
“This ruling is certainly a step forward for the cannabis industry as a whole. It’s encouraging to see the judiciary recognizing and upholding these state established rights and rejected baseless arguments against the operation of the industry.”