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Court: Neighbors Can Sue Cannabis Grower for Smells

June 7, 2017
DENVER (AP) — A cannabis farm’s neighbor can sue them for smells and other nuisances that could harm their property values, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling revives a lawsuit between a Colorado horse farm and a neighboring marijuana-growing warehouse.

The horse farm’s owners, the Reillys, sued in 2015, claiming that the warehouse would diminish their land’s value by emitting “noxious odors” and attracting unsavory visitors. A federal district court dismissed the Reillys’ claim, and the warehouse opened in 2016.

“The landowners have plausibly alleged at least one (racketeering) claim,” the judges wrote.

The horse farm owners appealed, and a three-judge appeals panel agreed Wednesday that their claims should be heard. But the judges said the Reillys can’t sue Colorado to force the state to enforce federal drug law and not allow the cannabis warehouse in the first place.

The southern Colorado case is interesting because the horse farm owners are trying to use a 1970 federal law crafted to fight organized crime. The Reillys say that federal racketeering laws entitle them to collect damages from the cannabis farm, even though it is legal under state law.

“The landowners have plausibly alleged at least one (racketeering) claim,” the judges wrote.

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Cannabis legalization opponents say the racketeering strategy gives them a possible tool to break an industry they oppose. It could give private citizens who oppose legalization a way to sue the industry out of business, even as federal officials have so far declined to shut down most cannabis businesses operating in violation of federal drug law.

“This is a tremendous victory for opponents of the marijuana industry,” said Brian Barnes, a Washington-based lawyer who represents the Reillys on behalf of the anti-crime nonprofit group Safe Streets Alliance.

Owners of the cannabis warehouse, owned by a company called Alternative Holistic Healing, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday. An attorney representing them in the case could not be reached, either.

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The case now goes to back to a federal district court that had earlier dismissed it.

The appeals panel handed cannabis opponents a defeat on another case Wednesday, however. The judges ruled that a lower court was right to dismiss a claim from a group of sheriffs in Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, who had asked the federal court to block Colorado’s cannabis law.

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  • Sue

    Its not about the money. It is a vendeta. I do not know these people but I do know that because the warehouse is there, it make the property value go up, the demand for grow space locations and businesses are out there. Someone buy him out already….lol

  • pierider

    A horse farm complaining about smells. Now that’s a good one! I’d countersue the for the smell of the horses making my weed smell bad and possibly driving down the price. LMAO!!!

    But in all seriousness, who do these people think they are trying to hold up the will of the entire state against them?

    Sue was right this is ALWAYS about vendetta. These moral crusaders believe they have some God-given duty to make sure we suffer and are in pain. I’d like to put people who believe that way through some of what they are trying to dish out, personally.

  • TOBY T

    If they don’t appreciate the odor of a cannabis farm, maybe they would prefer a 6 or 8 barn chicken farm instead. Or maybe even a big distillery. They smell awesome too. The feds don’t seem to mind the production of alcohol. $$$$$. This rates right up there with my little saying, “life…..common sense does not apply”. And just what would describe an unsavory visitor? I’m really getting tired of seeing people (patients, farmers, business owners…) singled out because of an amazing plant called cannabis.

  • Your Everything

    the idiots commenting.. horse shit does not intensify the air for miles like the noxious stench of pot growing and its for MONTHS not a few weeks like they like to bs you. It gives you headaches.. it drives customers away. It’s unlivable. Horse barns clean their barns.. if they didn’t they would reek and get shut down.. but you would have to be within a few houses to smell it. pot is awful.