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The Risk of RICO Claims Against Cannabis Businesses, and Potential Defenses

August 06, 2019
Firm Memoranda

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was designed to prevent mobsters from infiltrating legitimate businesses. Famously defined as the litigation equivalent of a thermonuclear device, a plaintiff in a RICO suit can recover treble damages and attorneys' fees. While federal courts have yet to enter any judgments against cannabis businesses facing RICO claims, it appears that RICO claims will continue to be asserted in litigation against cannabis growers and sellers. Part I of this Article discusses the necessary components of a RICO suit and explores some recent RICO cases unsuccessfully pursued against cannabis industry participants. The majority have not succeeded due to a failure to properly allege injury. Part II explains what types of arguments can be expected in the next waves of RICO litigation, and what decisions in RICO cases involving other industries suggest about whether plaintiffs will be able to plead injury.

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If you have any questions about the issues addressed in this memorandum, or if you would like a copy of any of the materials mentioned in it, please do not hesitate to reach out to:
Robert Becher
Phone: 213-443-3182