A property value case currently in court in Colorado is under close scrutiny, since the potential ramifications could sweep through states where marijuana is now legal.
The case involves Hope and Mike Reilly of Pueblo, CO, who have filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of ridding their state of the marijuana industry. The couple maintains that the proximity of a cannabis business to their property has caused a decrease in property value.
Cannabis possession was legalized in 2014 in the state of Colorado. Since then, it has been the state to watch as far as economic benefits of legalization and the effect legalization has had on crime. Now, the focus is there once again, for a potential court precedent on property value impact.
The lawsuit utilizes the federal anti-racketeering law to fight against the proliferation of cannabis companies in the state. Their primary concern is declining value for their property, claiming that the pungent odour from a nearby indoor marijuana grow is a large part of the cause.
A 2017 ruling by a federal appeals court states that the Reillys can use the anti-racketeering law to sue the cannabis company because it permits private parties to sue when their property or business has been damaged by a criminal enterprise.
Suits with similar concerns have already been filed in Massachusetts, California, and Oregon, leaving marijuana businesses waiting for the juror feedback to see where this could lead for states where legalized marijuana is a growing market.
The complaint filed in Colorado originally caught notice of marijuana advocates in 2015, when it was filed by the Washington, D.C. law firm Cooper & Kirk. The firm has a strong conservative reputation. They have a history of involvement in political realms as well, including work for one founding member as counsel for the US Justice Department when President Reagan was in office. Lawyers for the firm say they began working on legal strategies as soon as states began legalizing marijuana, recognizing the clear conflict with federal law at that time.
For Parker Walton, the owner of the 5,000-square-foot building that adjoins a parcel owned by the Reillys, the potential results of this lawsuit could mean issues for cannabis operations in multiple states.
Walton has created a website to raise money for his defense.