Category: Federal BS

RICO Madness: Marijuana Operations Face RICO Challenges in Federal Courts

The Feds are working on trying to take down the cannabis industry it would seem.  Below is an article about a Rico case they filed in Colorado with the help of an anti-cannabis group known as Safe Streets Alliance which is a national non-profit group aimed at reducing youth drug use and violent crime (they say).  There was a post earlier this morning on the RTG Facebook group about a RICO case that has been filed in Beavercreek Oregon but this post has been deleted by perhaps Facebook.  We do not know.  This post may well be deleted too. Below is an article about the Rico case in Colorado.

By Benjamin O. Kostrzewa
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
USA June 26 2017

Don’t look now cannabis businesses, but your neighbors may be raising a racket. A June decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver may have opened the doors to new legal challenges to marijuana operations: civil suits under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

RICO was originally intended to go after the mafia and other organized crime, but its broad language means it can be applied in other settings. RICO allows a private citizen to sue “racketeers” for damage to business or property due to the racketeer’s illegal activities or activities that were conducted under his guidance. Since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the production or distribution of marijuana is considered racketeering.

In this case, a Colorado couple claimed a neighboring marijuana operation was creating “noxious odors” that drifted onto their land allegedly causing the value of their property to drop. The Reillys contended that the odors coming from the marijuana facility adjacent to their land were a nuisance because it “interfered with their present use and enjoyment of the land” and caused a “diminution in its market value.” The Reillys (aided by Safe Streets Alliance, an anti-marijuana organization that was also party to the case) argued that any business engaged in the commercial cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana is a criminal enterprise for purposes of RICO, so they were entitled to relief under federal law.

The District Court in Colorado dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim under RICO. The District Court stated that Reillys’ injury (the noxious odors and reduced market value) was “speculative” and that they failed to provide any concrete evidence that they had provided harm. The District Court ruled that a “clear and definite” showing of damages were necessary under RICO.

On appeal, the 10th Circuit’s three-judge panel reversed the District Court’s conclusion that the Reilly’s claim of damages was merely “speculative” and thus must be dismissed. Instead, the 10th Circuit held that by alleging that the Reillys’ property has been directly injured by their neighbors’ “odorous and publicly-operating criminal enterprise,” the Reillys properly stated a claim and the case can proceed.

The 10th Circuit ruling also went out of its way to explain that the defendants’ growing marijuana as alleged would meet the elements of a RICO claim. As alleged, defendants were (a) racketeering by growing marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law; (b) were an “association-in-fact enterprise”; (c) the defendants conducted the enterprise’s affairs; and (d) that this activity constituted a “pattern” of illegal acts that is the direct cause of the Reilly’s alleged damages. By providing such analysis, it may have provided a roadmap to future plaintiffs for RICO.

Anti-legalization advocates such as the Safe Streets Alliance are likely on the lookout for more RICO cases to bring against marijuana operators. They likely believe they have found a profitable way to improve litigation risks on marijuana companies even in the event of federal inaction on marijuana and state expansion. Not only are the RICO charges relatively easy to bring, but if successful, RICO plaintiffs can receive treble damages. Treble is lawyer-speak for triple, meaning that plaintiffs can receive up to three times the actual damages. Plaintiffs, if successful, are also eligible to have their attorney’s fees covered by the defendant and have the courts shut down the marijuana operation.

For marijuana operators around the country, now is the time to assess your liability and reduce litigation risk:

**Review leases and other documents that may contain limitations as to what you can do on your property
**Review local ordinances on noxious odors and other nuisance rules, as they could be the basis for a dispute
**Be in strict compliance with any and all state laws related to cannabis
**Avoid any public disputes that could raise attention to your company

Moreover, perhaps above all else, determine if you have any frustrated neighbors that anti-legalization advocates could target. If you have an ongoing dispute with a neighbor, attempt to resolve it amicably before it can rise to this level

RICO charges are challenging, but a prepared company can avoid the trouble before it starts.

Jeff Sessions Stridently Ignores Cannabis Science to Our Collective Peril

What is it with this administration and science….now the Kiebler Elf denies cannabis science…WTF!!!

By  June 28, 2017 High Times Magazine

Opioid overdoses killed in excess of 33,000 people in 2015 and continue to ruin millions of lives, while our ill-equipped government dawdles with absurd and punitive solutions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions refuses to view the situation as a public-health crisis but rather insists on criminalizing, penalizing and filling jails—the exact wrong path to take.

Sessions’ stubborn insistence on disregarding scientific consensus regarding the role cannabis can play in stemming the opioid epidemic actually threatens to make it worse.

While the Justice Department clings to the irrational classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, therefore hindering scientific research (not to mention filling up prisons), the rest of the world moves forward.

Earlier this year, the National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM) published a rigorous review of scientific research that included more than 10,000 peer-reviewed studies, which supported conclusive evidence that cannabis is clinically effective in treating a number of illnesses and conditions—from epilepsy and mental health disorders, to injuries and pain.

Dr. Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, laments the fact that the U.S. government continues to obstruct important cannabis research.

“I understand the cautious nature of the government… but it is disappointing that marijuana continues to be included on the DEA’s list of the most dangerous drugs,” said Hurd, who studies the effects of marijuana on the brain.

It is especially disappointing in view of the opioid crisis, because cannabidiol (CBD) reverses some of the brain changes that occur with heroin use, according to Hurd’s own studies published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Hurd says that CBD is the more important compound when it comes to marijuana as a treatment for addiction. In terms of the wider scope of medical marijuana research, she points out that it is the “same cannabidiol being looked at for the kids with epilepsy.”

It has already been reported that the clinical use of cannabis could mean enormous savings for government health insurance programs, currently a national obsession as the Trump administration tries to strip half the country of healthcare so billionaires can have even bigger tax cuts than they already enjoy. But that’s another story.

The biggest savings would come from reduced prescriptions for pain medications, a large amount of which are opioids.

This explains why states that have approved MMJ are experiencing fewer opioid-related deaths.

While the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) tepidly acknowledged the evidence in the NASEM study, it still noted, “medical marijuana products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids needed to control pain.”

Therefore, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, isn’t it abundantly clear that a war on marijuana is a war on those who need it most: people already suffering from pain and people whose opioid addictions where brought on by that very pain?

Isn’t it abundantly clear that medical marijuana is just that—medical?

Jeff Sessions and other lawmakers really need to get off their high horses and stop moralizing about drugs.

Read the damn literature and let people have their medicine. The entire country will thank you.

Science Calls Out Jeff Sessions on Medical Marijuana and the “Historic Drug Epidemic”


Rolling back protections from federal interference in state legalization laws could worsen the opioid overdose crisis

Credit: Getty Images

Amid a drug crisis that kills 91 people in the U.S. each day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked Congress to help roll back protections that have shielded medical marijuana dispensaries from federal prosecutors since 2014, according to a letter made public this week. Those legal controls—which bar Sessions’s Justice Department from funding crackdowns on the medical cannabis programs legalized by 29 states and Washington, D.C.—jeopardize the DoJ’s ability to combat the country’s “historic drug epidemic” and control dangerous drug traffickers, the attorney general wrote in the letter sent to lawmakers.

The catch, however, is that this epidemic is one of addiction and overdose deaths fueled by opioids—heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers—not marijuana. In fact, places where the U.S. has legalized medical marijuana have lower rates of opioid overdose deaths.

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