Legalized Cannabis: Outside Interests Sue CO Businesses, Officials
It appears that some folks out there don’t approve of Colorado’s legalized cannabis laws. Currently, there are three lawsuits pending against CO businesses and officials. Two of them organized and partly funded out-of-state. The plaintiffs? Conservative law firms and anti-drug organizations. The reason? Some say money.
Supporters of legalized cannabis say these plaintiffs aren’t playing fair. Especially considering some interested parties may be in it for financial reasons – for example, for-profit prison owners. Many would admit, this sounds a bit unethical.
The lawsuits allege racketeering and violations of the U,.S. Constitution. Five other states are voting on legalization in November, and the lawsuits are clearly positioned to influence that outcome. The lawsuits are known as the “Sheriffs’ Lawsuit” and “Horse Ranchers’ Lawsuit”. Another case, the “Holiday Inn Lawsuit” was dismissed when the defendant closed shop and paid a settlement.
The Interested Parties
Colorado pro-Cannabis lawmakers are concerned that the public is unaware of the origins of these lawsuits. Namely, out-of-state policymakers and legal interests. Consider the names of the plaintiffs – “horse ranchers” and “sheriffs”. They sound like local names of coalitions, and are filed on behalf of local Interests. But in reality, they may be funded by conservative organizations in any state in effort to affect policies.
In the sheriff’s lawsuit, the U.S. Constitution is cited because possession and use of marijuana is still a federal crime. Thus, proponents say that Colorado and its residents have no right to legalized cannabis or licensed sales. Rumor has it that the sheriffs and attorneys involved wanted to sue, but were unsure how to get funding.
Author Mark De Bernardo, a Washington, D.C. attorney and anti-drug activist, then stepped up to help. He thought this group had the best shot at overturning legalized cannabis. This group is not funding the lawsuit, however – its his pro bono services and the money filtered in from the outside coalition. One of the donors is said to the DEA, and another Drug Free America Foundation, based out of Florida.
Are the Defendants Legitimate Businesses? How about the Plantiffs?
According to the horse rancher’s lawsuit, the defendants are not. Some of its claims fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is statute meant to prevent organized crime from interfering with bonafide businesses. In this case, the plantiff is trying to halt the construction of a cannabis facility nearby from Pueblo County.
Unfortunately, the racketeering claims intent on curtailing legalized cannabis may be barking up the wrong tree. They are going after companies which do business with legal cannabis dealers. And there’s at least one suspicious looking organization on the plaintiff side as well – Safe Streets. An attorney-turned-researcher was unable to find anything on this group, and believes that it was created solely to file lawsuits.
So What Will Be the Verdict?
It’s still going to be an uphill battle. In general, anti-marijuana groups are losing, while marijuana law reform is winning. And with every additional state that legalizes marijuana, the less chance that federal prohibition will be able to stand. The courts are the last resort for those with a stake in non-legalization of weed.
And more lawsuits are expected to come. There has been mention of use of banned pesticides on plants, as well as smoking-and-driving deaths due to impaired drivers. No word on whether alcohol companies (drunk driving kills over 10,000 people per year in the U.S.) will ever be sued by these groups, as well.