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By Anders Hagstrom
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that people can sue their pot growing neighbors for the smells given off from their product even if growing marijuana is legal in the state.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling approves a 2015 lawsuit from Colorado horse farm owners, the Baileys, who argued that the “noxious odors” coming from a neighboring pot farm lowered their property value. The Baileys first filed the suit in 2015, and the district court dismissed it for lack of standing. The appeals court’s ruling Wednesday reversed the decision and forced the district court to consider the case.
The court ruled the pot farm could be sued for damages based on a 1970 federal law originally used to convict members of organized crime rings for racketeering, the AP reports.
The ruling represents a major victory for pot opponents. While the three-judge panel disagreed with the Baileys’ assertion that they could sue to state to enforce federal marijuana laws, the decision gave pot opponents legal precedent to sue the pot farmers out of business, even in a state such as Colorado with legalized pot. The pot warehouse, which opened in 2016 after the lawsuit’s dismissal, now faces the possibility of closure depending on the result of the lawsuit and the extent of damages owed.
“This is a tremendous victory for opponents of the marijuana industry,” Brian Barnes, a Washington-based lawyer representing the horse farm told the AP.
The appeals court handed down two marijuana decisions on Wednesday, but only the Bailey’s case was a victory for pot opponents. A second decision justified a lower court’s dismissal of a suit brought by various sheriffs against Colorado, attempting to block the state’s pot legalization.