Approaching new levels of snitchery, a next door neighbor in Oklahoma filed a complaint under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—the worst type of lawsuit—after they accused a cannabis farm of growing too close to the property line.
Keith and Stephanie Grant filed a complaint, Grant et al v. Flying Bud Farms, LLC et al, in the Northern District of Oklahoma against Flying Bud Farms, LLC and numerous companies associated with Flying Bud Farms for allegedly growing, distributing and selling cannabis illegally.
Per the complaint, The Grants live in rural Oklahoma next door to defendant Gary Bacon Jr.’s property. In 2019, Bacon launched Flying Bud Farms with co-defendant Derek Wachob to grow cannabis and supply local dispensaries including for their own D-Luxe Dispensary.
While the complaint admits that the cannabis was grown “approximately less than 50 feet from the Grants’ property line,” it claims the Grants were forced to live “in the constant presence of an openly operating unlawful marijuana cultivation and distribution enterprise and a construction zone” which made it impossible for them to “enjoy” their home.
Practically everything about the cannabis operation bothered the next door neighbors. The Grants claim that they can’t enjoy their home because of bright lights at night, noisey industrial fans, alterations of the floodplain that allegedly caused flooding on the Grants’ property, helicopter noises and the trademark odor of cannabis that they say have been a constant nuisance.
Federal racketeering charges are nothing to laugh about. RICO lawsuits are the government’s “most powerful tool” in combating criminal organizations, New York Times reports. They are typically reserved for organized crime. RICO suits illustrate the scope of punishment the law can reach—think triple or more the cost in damages and attorneys’ fees. It can quickly sink a business.
Racketeering charges under RICO have been tested previously in several other similar cannabis-related cases, but typically have not succeeded. This happens ever since a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in June 2017 in Colorado when it was ruled that it was “reasonable to infer” that a potential home buyer would be less inclined to purchase land adjacent to a grow in the case of Safe Streets Alliance v. Alternative Holistic Healing, LLC. RICO lawsuits have a tendency to lead to massive settlement agreements.
The Grants claim that the business is illegal based on federal law. But Flying Bud Farms is listed by the Oklahoma government under the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) as a licensed grower as of December 15, 2021. As Oklahoma has no caps on medical cannabis licenses, there is a high number of legal operations. With the influx of medical cannabis operations, some neighbors are panicking.
They also claim that Flying Buds Farms is located on property owned by Bacon’s stepmother, and that the defendants did not receive permits from the State Fire Marshall or the Creek County Floodplain Management Board for the construction of their facilities.
The plaintiffs are suing on the counts of a violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1962(C) and (D), nuisance, and injury to property. Law Street Media reports that the Grants are seeking “injunctive relief enjoining the defendants from further unlawful racketeering activities, three times their damages caused by the racketeering activities, compensatory damages, abatement of nuisances, disgorgement, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.”
The plaintiffs are represented by GableGotwals, a law firm based in Tulsa.