In case you missed it, a Washington, DC-based lobbying group has filed two RICO (yes, RICO!) lawsuits against the state of Colorado’s leadership and businesses in an effort to squash marijuana legalization (and, by extension, American drug reform). Other publications have given this pretty thorough coverage so we’ll just borrow from The Cannabist here as a recap:
“Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is among the defendants named in the lawsuits, which focus on property owners’ rights under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (aka RICO), a federal statute meant to eliminate “the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce,” according to the Justice Department.
Both suits were filed by common plaintiff Safe Streets Alliance, a Washington D.C.-based group opposed to the legalization of marijuana. Like a similar lawsuit proposed by neighboring states Nebraska and Oklahoma, these actions also look at the Supremacy Clause, which argues that Colorado’s regulations should be struck down because they conflict with federal law.
A RICO lawsuit can only be considered if a party can prove they’ve been injured by alleged organized crime and racketeering, so Safe Streets Alliance enlisted two Colorado residents and a business as plaintiffs in order to show standing. The residents–Phyllis and Michael Reilly of Rye–claim that the construction of a “marijuana cultivation facility…has already marred the mountain views from the Reillys’ property, thus making it less suitable for hiking and horseback riding,” among other trivial complaints like smells that don’t yet exist and the fact that “they are reminded of the racketeering enterprise next door every time they look to the west.”
One can only hope that this suit gets tossed by a reasonable judge.
The second lawsuit, however, we can do something about. New Vision Hotels Two is the plaintiff here: A Colorado Springs-based hotel management firm whose franchised properties operate under many famous motel-tier brand names, New Vision runs a Holiday Inn in the resort town of Frisco. They complain that a recreational dispensary opening nearby has already cost them approximately $50,000 in revenue as “the booking agents for two high school ski teams that have stayed with New Vision each of the past several years have said that their teams will not return to the hotel this year due to Defendants’ marijuana operations.”
Colorado Springs’ aversion to legal marijuana is an odd one and it could be argued that the city’s refusal to allow the sale of recreational marijuana has cost New Vision’s nine local franchises hundreds of thousands in profits as weed tourists avoid the conservative mecca in favor of metropolitan Denver, and even small towns like Pueblo see more money than they expected in tax revenue from sale of the legal stuff. But, birds of a feather or something.
The Marijuana Policy Project has issued a call to arms with a new change.org petition asking Holiday Inn to drop the lawsuit and encouraging all marijuana policy advocates to boycott the chain until it does. Though New Vision Hotels Two is an independent operator (franchisee), the hope is that the parent company can pressure them to make the right decision in order to save the brand. We at The Stoner’s Journal encourage you to join the cause by boycotting Holiday Inn and its “Resort,” “Express,” and “Vacations” brands.
It’s important that businesses not fall prey to the knee-jerk reaction of certain customers who have not yet come to terms with the realities of our brave new world. And it’s even more important that global brands do not allow their franchisees to send political messages using their company’s good name in frivolous lawsuits that are quickly becoming a nation-wide source of ridicule. Nobody believes these lawsuits will be successful. Like so many other conservative political methods of late, this will simply be another waste of taxpayer dollars and civil servants’ energy.
Boycott Holiday Inn.