September 02, 2020 Feature

Attempts to Weed Out Cannabis Businesses through Civil RICO Lawsuits

By Lisa L. Pittman
Esther Kelleter/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Esther Kelleter/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Cannabis industry participants face exposure on all fronts to legal attacks and challenges, including civil RICO.

Around 2015, Colorado landowners enraged by the growing legal cannabis industry—as cannabis is now authorized for medical use in 34 states and adult use in 11 states and Washington, D.C.—creatively devised a strategy to dismantle the state’s entire regulated cannabis regime, and thus the industry itself, through the use of the RICO statute. Instead of alleging odor or nuisance claims against their neighbors, these plaintiffs crafted detailed private civil RICO allegations not only against the unwanted cannabis business neighbor but also against every person who had ever done business with the cannabis business, including the banks, insurance companies, landowners, construction companies and contractors, and John Does, in an effort to cause these defendants to sever ties with the target cannabis business defendant.

Premium Content For:
  • Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section
Join - Now