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Colorado Marijuana RICO Jury Trial Goes to Pot

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By George Khoury, Esq. on November 05, 2018 2:40 PM

The marijuana business is booming. But alongside the boom, the market, governments, and society in general are reacting to the rise of legal and medicinal marijuana.

One seemingly nefarious response to the pot industry has been the rise of RICO lawsuits against various legal marijuana businesses brought by neighboring land and business owners related to an alleged nuisance caused by pot farming and business, generally. Fortunately for the industry, the first legal pot RICO jury verdict is in, and the jury didn't agree with the aggrieved plaintiffs.

What the RICO?

If your head has been in the clouds and you haven't heard about this line of cases, brace yourself. 

Due to the fact that pot is illegal federally, neighboring businesses and landowners have been using the RICO statutes to civilly prosecute marijuana businesses for acting in concert and causing them damages (decreased property values due to smell and increased traffic, mostly). In short, the farms, processing plants, and distribution points are the major targets in these cases that allege that the various legal marijuana businesses act in concert as part of a criminal enterprise to violate federal laws (while following state laws).

Curiously, it is noted that the plaintiffs in the Colorado case were able to prove violations of RICO but failed to prove up damages. They sought to show diminished property value to their neighboring ranch, and despite expert testimony to that effect, the jury was not swayed.

To Be Continued ...

Interestingly, this first case tried to a jury may be just that, the first case tried to a jury. There are several others in the pipeline, and not just in Colorado. In fact, there are now CLE courses that specifically lay out the framework for bringing these types of cases against marijuana businesses.

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