The settlement of a Colorado lawsuit involving federal racketeering charges has added momentum to an effort looking to halt nationwide efforts to legalize cannabis.
The lawsuit was brought forth on behalf of the Holiday Inn Frisco against a medical marijuana shop, Medical Marijuana of the Rockies (MMR), which had planned to move to a location nearby the hotel. The opening of the shop was reportedly serving as a turnoff to the hotel’s customers. The lawsuit, which also targeted companies that banked for the shop, focused on the hotel property owner’s rights under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
“The concern was that the hotel’s customers would be put off by the opening of the facility, which was immediately across the parking lot from the hotel,” said Brian Barnes, a lawyer representing Safe Streets. “As we understand the law under RICO, anyone who provides services to a marijuana operation is exposing themselves to potential liability under RICO.”
According to a note on MMR’s website, the court case resulted in the shop being “forced to close” its previous location. Two companies affiliated with the shop –Merchants Bonding Company and the Netherlands-based Accounting Specialists– had to pay $50,000 and $20,000, respectively.
Sam Kamin, a professor at The University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, believes that while the MMR shop would have ultimately won the case, there is a chance that these sorts of lawsuits will proliferate over time.
“I still think that it’ll be impossible for any business to show that they were harmed by the location of a marijuana business,”
“But it doesn’t mean that these suits are pointless or non-problematic for the industry. In fact, they’re going to be incredibly problematic for the industry going forward. The folks who helped to bring this suit and sought out plaintiffs for this suit are looking for more and other lawsuits.”
Safe Streets is already a plaintiff in a similar suit in the state. The suit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court in Colorado.