For those who may be unaware, a lawsuit that originated from a 2015 complaint filed in southern Colorado’s Pueblo County that sought to overturn Amendment 64 (which afforded the birth of the state’s marijuana industry) recently made it to court. While such a lawsuit sounds trivial, the outcome of this case actually had huge implications for the future of not only Colorado’s marijuana industry, but the entire country’s fledgling legal cannabis system. Now that the case has reached a conclusion, I’m here to break down the entire situation with a few opinions thrown in.
The Lawsuit Itself
This suit was filed by Michael and Windy Reilly who claimed that a marijuana supply facility near their property was negatively impacting its value. Alone, this sounds rather absurd but potentially plausible should the right evidence have been presented. However, the Reilly’s claims did not stop there. Given the circumstances, they also claimed that the CannaCraft grow facility, owned by one Parker Walton, was therefore in violation of federal racketeering laws. The Reilly’s noted that the act of growing marijuana for recreational use is a “noxious, annoying, or offensive activity” that could increase the area’s crime rate due to grow facilities being targets for theft. On the premise that the grow was in violation of various covenants that govern Meadow at Legacy Ranch, the housing development on which their property resides, impinges on their ability to enjoy their land as they please, this suit reached a federal courthouse. Against typical legal support, this may not have been a need for much concern, but this article wouldn’t have been written if that were the case. The Reilly’s enlisted the services of Cooper & Kirk, a law office famous (or infamous) within the legal world for representing Jeff Sessions as well as a handful of other high-profile individuals who are against the legalization of cannabis. To make matters even worse, the suit was originally filed in conjunction with the national anti-marijuana group Safe Street Alliance as well.
This may shock some, but there are many groups and individuals in this country who are actively fighting against pro-marijuana legislation. What may shock fewer is that there are also plenty of assholes in this country who would love to profit off of a frivolous lawsuit such as this. Given that this court case reached the federal level, a finding in favor of the Reilly’s would have likely pave the way for a number of copycat lawsuits throughout the country by members of either party I mentioned at the beginning of this section. Such a crippling blow to the existing cannabis industry could result in a change in zoning laws that could force business to relocate their facilities, which some may or may not afford or be able to do, especially if they just lost a lawsuit similar to the one filed by the Reilly’s. Because the court approved their use of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) in this suit, a ruling in favor of the Reilly’s would have yielded three times the damages. Luckily, their weak case was built mostly around subjective evidence and didn’t hold up against the defense’s scientifically backed counterargument. In fact, the verdict was said to have been reached rather quickly, as the Reilly’s couldn’t prove that the Walton’s grow facility’s presence lowered the value of their property at all.
Personally, I feel this lawsuit was nonsensensical and, if anything, was mostly based in bias against cannabis and lacked legitimacy. The smell of cannabis may bother some, sure, but it doesn’t negatively impact one’s quality of life or incite to adverse health effects to those without some kind of allergy to it. As someone who lives in Denver, I have dealt with the smell emanating from a massive pet food factory week after week. At one point, I worked nearby it and despite feeling like I was walking around with a dog food bag over my head throughout the day, I never once considered suing the owners of the factory over the smell. That same factory is within blocks of entire neighborhoods, but I haven’t caught wind of a federal case against Purina being filed anytime soon under similar, non-RICO related, pretenses. The outcome of this case was huge win for the cannabis industry as a whole, and those who are a part of it in any way, whether a consumer or an owner-operator, should rejoice in knowing that a case centered around a federally illegal plant just ruled in our favor. In regard to federal court case, when anyone who is defending their marijuana-based business wins, we all win. Again, thank you for reading and as always, keep it a mile high.
Travis A. Denver, Co
An accomplished scholar, researcher, athlete, writer, and editor, Travis is always aiming to keep himself on the forefront of content creation. Most of his free time is spent practicing mixed martial arts, hitting the slopes, or adventuring with his beloved canine companion, Fate.