Lawsuit over marijuana, property values could have broad impacts

DENVER -- A legal fight has started in Federal Court here in Denver.

At issue, should a Marijuana Grow House be shut down because of a neighbors complaints?  The courts decision could have a huge impact on Colorado.

This is a case that’s not only being watched here in Colorado, but by all states that have legalized marijuana.

The question: should Federal Drug Laws supersede Colorado’s laws?

This fight is brewing in the the tiny community of Rye, about 30 miles outside Pueblo where The owners of the Meadows at Legacy Ranch claim the grow is hurting their property value.  The civil case was filed 3 years ago.

Parker Walton, the owner of the Canna craft grow house is now having to defend himself.

Walton said, “I thought it was ridiculous. They were making claims, complaining about odor, decrease of their property value all based on an operation that didn’t even exist yet."

Walton says he chose to put his facility out here on the 40 acre plot of land.  He got clearance from the County - all the permits that were needed.
He figured there wouldn’t be any complaints because there were very few neighbors.

Owner Parker Walton took FOX31 into to his grow house and showed his building ventilation system which he says traps the air.

Ranch owners Hope and Mike Reilly filed the lawsuit.  The couple claims the house emits “noxious odors” and affects their ability to enjoy riding horses.

The couple is backed by a group called Safe Streets, a Washington based anti-marijuana group trying to use federal anti-racketeering laws to go after states like Colorado that ignore federal drug laws.

Walton says, “It sets a precedent. It creates a blue print for anyone else who wants to take down cannabis."

One neighbor told us the occasional scent of marijuana didn’t bother his family.  Another hadn’t smelled it at all.  Fred Hicken said, “Not once yet."
The Reilly’s would not speak to FOX31 on camera.

Through their attorney, Phillis and Michael Reilly sent this statement saying, “We’re so very thankful to be given the opportunity to tell our story.”
Meantime, Wallton’s business is now in limbo despite his efforts to follow state laws.

Walton said, “I take compliance very seriously and I have since day one. We had no problems going through the process and the issuance of a license."

The federal racketeering law being used by the group out of Washington is a law enacted in the 70s to go after the mob, crime bosses and drug cartels.

If this business in Rye is forced to close because of attorneys fees, legal analysts and Parker Walton say there could be a domino effect – the same could happen to marijuana grows across Colorado. The trial is expected to last several days.

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