The largest marijuana policy organization in the United States called Friday for a nationwide boycott of Holiday Inn after a Colorado hotel operator filed a federal lawsuit that jeopardizes the state’s regulations on pot. New Vision Hotels Two LLC filed suit Thursday "to vindicate the federal laws prohibiting the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana," accusing a prospective weed dispensary of racketeering activity and claiming it would harm business for its neighboring Frisco Holiday Inn location, according to court documents.
“Colorado is doing more to control marijuana than any state in the nation, and this lawsuit is aimed at undermining its efforts,” said Mason Tvert, Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement Friday. “We’re encouraging everyone who agrees marijuana should be legal for adults to think twice before spending their holidays at a Holiday Inn. If they won’t accept marijuana businesses, we shouldn’t give them our business.”
The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court, named Medical Marijuana of the Rockies as one of 12 defendants in the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act case. It’s the first-ever racketeering lawsuit filed against a marijuana business since the arrival of legal weed. Safe Streets Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that opposes marijuana legalization, sponsored the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff with the Colorado Springs Company that owns the Frisco Holiday Inn.
The litigation comes nearly three months after two neighboring states sued Colorado in federal court. Nebraska and Oklahoma brought a lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court against Colorado in December, asserting that the state’s marijuana industry violates federal law and is causing a burden on bordering states, the Summit Daily in Colorado reported.
John Hudak, a Brookings Institute fellow on governance, said racketeering is a “creative argument,” because Colorado and its politicians profited from the $44 million in tax revenue brought in by legal marijuana last year, just as organized crime families profit from illegal drug and weapon sales, according to the Summit Daily. “On the face, this isn’t something you necessarily laugh at. They’re accusing the state of doing something that would clearly be illegal if a crime family were doing it, setting up a system and taking a percentage of money from operations,” Hudak reportedly said Thursday.
In 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of Colorado and Washington that the Department of Justice would respect each state's laws that permit the legal sales marijuana there despite a federal law that prohibits the sale of what is still a Schedule I drug -- a classification that includes heroin.