Pot grow stench brings on federal lawsuit in Pueblo County

FILE - This April 15, 2017 file photo shows marijuana plants on display at a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. A new study released on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 about using a marijuana ingredient to treat epilepsy joins a limited record of scientific knowledge about the harms and benefits of pot. Experts have called for a national effort to learn more about pot and its chemical cousins. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. — Pueblo County farm owners are moving forward with their federal lawsuit against a marijuana cultivation facility.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of a district court, giving the lawsuit another go.

Michael and Phillis Reilly filed the lawsuit in 2015 after a pot grow facility was built near their home in Colorado City.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the facility could be in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States.

“It’s really important to the Reillys that they win this case, because they’ve got this property that is burdened by this terrible stink,” said Brian Barnes, Attorney for Safe Streets Alliance and for the Reillys.

The Reillys claim the stench from the marijuana facility is diminishing their property value.

“It’s a last ditch effort by some prohibitionists, who are losing in the court of public opinion, they’re losing state by state at the ballot box, so they’re trying to use obscure federal legislation to try to shut down the will of the voters,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace.

Pace said in Pueblo County’s case, the marijuana industry has helped create thousands of jobs and fund scholarships.

While marijuana facilities are in compliance with Colorado law, federally they are identified under RICO as a form of racketeering activity.

“Under federal law the cultivation and sale of marijuana is still illegal, and so as a result, the extraordinary remedies that are available under RICO apply to Colorado marijuana businesses,” said Barnes.

If the Reillys are able to win this case, they could be compensated three times the damages they’ve already claimed, plus attorney fees and an injunction.

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