In a landmark decision regarding a cannabis farm and the strong smell they tend to produce, a federal jury ruled against the couple who filed a racketeering lawsuit against their neighbor’s pot growing facility, reported the Colorado Sun.
Michael and Phillis Reilly, who filed the lawsuit in 2015, claimed the marijuana warehouse connected to the weed farm was emitting noxious odors and therefore lowered their property value.
The couple’s attorneys used the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, which was passed by Congress in 1970 with the idea of targeting organized crime such as murder, robbery, extortion, terrorism, and other serious offenses.
Lawsuits using the RICO defense have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon, all claiming the smell of marijuana wafting through the air damages their property value and ability to enjoy their land.
But this was the first time a jury heard a case.
The Colorado case involved Parker Walton who is the owner of CannaCraft Co. – a small weed cultivation facility. Walton said that even before his business was up and running, he was hit with the lawsuit.
“We started construction in January of 2015, in February of 2015 we had this case over the top of us,” Walton told the Colorado Sun.
The Reilly couple, who live several hundred yards away from the cultivation facility, claimed in the lawsuit that Walton was breaking federal law by growing marijuana and the odor from the plants was lowering their property value.
The verdict was closely watched by many the cannabis industry as the decision will have an impact on the future of Colorado’s as well as other cultivators across the nation.
While the verdict won’t stop similar lawsuits from happening, Walton says it will change the way each case will be looked at.
“We did show these third-party organizations or anybody who wants to put this money into fighting this, that at the end of the day it’s probably going to be fruitless,” said Walton.