PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a racketeering lawsuit brought by a vineyard against a neighboring marijuana operation can go forward despite attempts to have it dismissed — a ruling that could increase the odds for vineyards and other agricultural businesses that have fought the presence of cannabis farms in their backyards with limited success.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown found in the Aug. 27 ruling that there was enough evidence the plaintiff, Momtazi Vineyard, had suffered a financial loss from the neighboring marijuana operation to take the case to trial.
At least two previous racketeering lawsuits filed in Oregon over the smell from marijuana farms have been dismissed, making this ruling notable, said Jesse Mondry, an attorney at the law firm Harris Bricken, which specializes in cannabis-related legal matters. Mondry is not involved in the case.
“It changes the playing field in that the court has shown a pathway to bring racketeering claims against marijuana farms,” he said. “I don’t know that this is going to open the floodgates. At least they know now what they need to do to survive a motion to dismiss.”
The case highlights the tension between vintners and marijuana businesses over land, water, odor and aesthetics in the fertile areas of Oregon and California where both wine grapes and state-legal cannabis flourish. The current case involves a vineyard in the heart of a federally designated viticulture area in Oregon’s Yamhill County, where wine tourism is booming.