Federal Judge Dismisses Sonoma County Neighbors’ Pioneering Lawsuit Against Cannabis Grower

RICO lawsuits continue across the country

A federal judge has ruled that a group of Petaluma neighbors cannot sue a cannabis company and its lead grower under a federal racketeering and corruption law because bad odors and noise are nuisances that don’t cause the kind of measurable financial losses required to pursue the case.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar’s Dec. 27 ruling halted what may have been the first attempt in California to use the civil portion of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed in 1970 to combat the mafia and organized crime, to stop marijuana cultivation since it was legalized for recreational use.

The plaintiffs argued that the operation’s “sickening cannabis odor” and loud noise diminished the value and enjoyment of their properties. But Tigar, in his 11-page decision dismissing the case, wrote that the neighbors’ complaints amounted to nuisances and personal injuries, which are “not compensable under RICO.”

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