Safe Streets Alliance has dropped its lawsuit against Bank of the West, which was alleged to have done business with Medical Marijuana of the Rockies, one of 12 defendants named in a federal racketeering lawsuit filed in Colorado. The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group dropped the bank from the suit after the financial institution said it doesn’t knowingly serve marijuana businesses and closed all accounts linked to Jerry Olson, the dispensary’s owner, Summit Daily reported Thursday.
A representative for Safe Streets Alliance said Bank of the West isn’t off the hook just yet. “We would consider adding Bank of the West back as a defendant if it came to light that the bank violated the federal money laundering statutes by knowingly providing financial services to the illegal drug conspiracy that is the focus of our suit,” Brian Barnes of Washington, D.C. law firm Cooper and Kirk, who represents the other plaintiff in the Safe Streets Alliance case, New Vision Hotels, said in a statement. New Vision owns the Frisco Holiday Inn in Frisco, Colorado, and has claimed that the proposed opening of a marijuana business near its hotel would drive away customers.
“Beyond that, I can’t comment on our legal strategy or on what actions we might take in the future,” Barnes said.
The Colorado pot industry currently faces two lawsuits, both of which were filed by Safe Streets Alliance. The organization, which bills itself as an anti-crime group, has opposed marijuana legalization in U.S. states on the grounds that it violates federal law. It has used federal racketeering laws, which bar governments from benefiting financially from activities the feds deem illegal, to go after several Colorado marijuana businesses and state politicians, including Gov. John Hickenlooper.
One lawsuit involves the proposed opening of a marijuana dispensary in Frisco, a popular ski town about 70 miles outside Denver. The lawsuit’s other plaintiff, New Visions, said it has already received complaints from customers of the hotel about the dispensary being so close to the property. Marijuana businesses, the hotel has alleged, “drive away legitimate businesses’ customers, emit pungent, foul odors, attract undesirable visitors, increase criminal activity, increase traffic and reduce property values.”
The second lawsuit was filed jointly with Colorado property owners Phillis and Michael Reilly, who are both members of Safe Streets Alliance. The pair claims the construction of a cannabis-growing facility near their land has obstructed their views of the nearby mountains. While the lawsuits have put many in the marijuana business on the defensive, legal experts have said the cases are tenuous and probably won’t hold up in court. The state has yet to officially respond to the lawsuits.