Troublesome Court Ruling Could Have a Domino Effect on State Legal Cannabis

A court ruling in Colorado favored the neighbors of a legal marijuana cultivator, claiming the smell being emitted from the farm was noxious. The funding for the lawsuit came from a mysterious company out of Washington D.C. called the Safe Street Alliance.

The end result is that a court ruling has decided that a legal marijuana farm needs to close down all due to the smell. Where is the line drawn now then? If a lawsuit can close down a legal cannabis farm for its smell, then what is preventing every legal marijuana farm from getting cleared out due to its smell? The biggest concern must be the current administration, in particular with the current Department of Justice. President Trump has taken a passive stance on legalized cannabis since he took office, and he nominated an attorney general that is an opponent to cannabis. Could this court ruling be what Jeff Sessions has been looking for?

Most people have strong feelings about marijuana’s distinctive dank odor. Suspicious landlords sniff for it. High-school hot-boxers roll down all the windows of their cars and drive around for hours trying to get rid of it. Mainstream candle and soap companies seek to recreate it for high-end, non-psychoactive mood settings. And now, it’s quietly becoming clear that the powerful smell of legal cannabis could become its ultimate undoing ­– the thing that causes the entire legalization experiment to disappear in a poof of smoke.

Earlier this summer, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado decided that the “noxious odors” from a pot farm could be lowering nearby property values and creating a nuisance. The decision came out of a civil suit by the farm’s neighbors under federal racketeering law, and could set a landmark precedent. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and this decision makes clear that private citizens can now circumvent state law and do what Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants but has yet to do: challenge the legitimacy of states and businesses participating in legalization. Next year, the suit will go back to district court, and unless other appeals courts issue contradictory rulings and the Supreme Court decides to take up the case, the 10th Circuit decision will stand – providing a road map for people who hate marijuana to initiate the collapse of legal weed in America.

Everything about this case is important, from its far-reaching implications to the mysterious, well-funded organization behind it. But before we get into the details, the key thing to realize here is this neighborly dispute is a microcosm for what’s wrong with America’s tangled marijuana policy: The commercialization of cannabis has had real consequences for people and places that want no involvement with the drug. Attempting, as we have, to cordon off the states and businesses and entrepreneurs and government agencies that interact with pot is delusional.

Legal weed cannot be neatly contained. Markets and odors don’t work that way. Neighbors know this. Interstate pot traffickers know this. Attorney General Jeff Sessions knows this. The question is: when will we change federal law to reflect reality?

According to legal filings, the “offensive smell” problem in Colorado began when some licensed marijuana growers decided to set up shop next to a residential development known as The Meadows at Legacy Ranch, described as “105 acres of beautiful rolling pasture with sweeping mountain vistas.” Hope and Michael Reilly own three lots there, which they sometimes come to “on weekends with their children to ride horses, hike, and visit with friends.” Now, however, the stench of pot is ruining their fun, and possibly the value of their land.

The Reillys never would have been able to mount a legal challenge like this on their own. The whole thing is being paid for by a D.C.-based nonprofit called the Safe Streets Alliance – an obscure anti-drug organization that the opposing side’s lawyer has called “a fake organization” and “a sham.” No one knows who exactly belongs to the Safe Streets Alliance, or where their money comes from. The attorney representing Safe Streets Alliance, Brian Barnes, says he can’t provide any details about the group’s funding and membership, citing attorney-client confidentiality, but denied that the organization was “fake.” Those affiliated with the group have legitimate public health and cultural concerns about legalization, he says, and don’t think that states should be allowed to so flagrantly violate federal law.

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Source: MJFeed

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