A federal judge has ruled that an Oregon vineyard has established the legal authority to sue a neighboring cannabis growing operation. In the ruling, U.S. Senior District Judge Anna Brown found that Momzati Vineyard’s allegation that the proximity of the marijuana cultivation business had caused a “concrete financial loss” and the lawsuit for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) could continue.
A motion from the defendants, Mary and Steven Wagner and their son Richard, to dismiss the suit because the Yamhill County vineyard’s claims of lost grape sales, reduced grape marketability, and reduced property rental income weren’t concrete financial losses caused by a RICO violation was denied by Brown with the 20-page ruling.
Passed in the 1970s as a tool to fight organized crime, RICO allows civil suits to recover losses from an ongoing criminal enterprise. In 2015, opponents of legalized cannabis began using RICO in states with legal pot, hoping to destroy the new industry with the costs and risks of marketing a product still illegal under federal law.
In its lawsuit, Momzati Vineyard claims that an order was canceled because a customer feared that the cannabis nearby would taint the grapes with the smell of marijuana.