Pamplin Media Group File
A couple of rural Oregon landowners are accusing their neighbors of operating marijuana-growing operations in violation of federal anti-racketeering laws.
The lawsuit filed by Rachel and Erin McCart of Beavercreek, Ore., accuses 43 defendants — including neighboring property owners as well as affiliated marijuana growers and retailers — of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Because it remains illegal under federal law, Oregon’s “regulatory scheme” for marijuana does not protect the defendants from RICO charges for conspiring to grow, process and sell the controlled substance, according to the plaintiffs.
“Given the strict federal prohibitions against each of those purposes, defendants knew these purposes could only be accomplished via a pattern of racketeering,” the complaint said. “In furtherance of that goal, defendants pooled their resources and achieved enterprise efficiency that no one defendant could have achieved individually.”
Beginning in late 2014, the defendants began installing equipment to produce marijuana on two properties neighboring the McCarts, who own nearly 11 acres of fenced pastures and forestland, the complaint said.
While the neighborhood was once quite and safe, the marijuana operations have drawn unwanted visitors who litter nearby properties, play loud music, ride loud all-terrain vehicles and harass landowners, the plaintiffs claim.
The McCarts allege that a narrow, one-lane easement running across their property is now a busy commercial roadway traveled “seven days a week, at all hours of the day and night” by the marijuana growers as well as their customers, employees and building contractors.
“While passing plaintiffs’ property, these easement users stared menacingly at plaintiffs, directed obscene gestures at them, peered into plaintiffs’ kitchen window (which looks out onto the easement), openly used marijuana, rolled their windows down and blasted loud music and dramatically accelerated or decelerated when they observed plaintiffs outdoors on their property,” the complaint said.
These problems, as well as the “unmistakable, skunk-like stench of marijuana” and the incessant barking of guard dogs, have reduced the McCarts’ property value and would make it tough to sell at any price, the lawsuit alleges.
“No one’s idea of a dream home includes noxious odors, invasive and persistent racket, heavy commercial traffic, a location next door to two illegal drug manufacturing sites, or aggressively obnoxious neighbors,” according to the plaintiffs.
The McCarts seek compensation for three times the amount of damages caused to their property in an amount that’s not specified in the lawsuit, which has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta in Portland.