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Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of RICO Claims Relating to Cannabis

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Well, it looks like cannabis RICO lawsuits are not going to happen any time soon. As an update to this post I wrote in 2020, the Ninth Circuit has just affirmed the dismissal of two RICO claims brought by a cannabis business owner.

Background of Shulman v. Kaplan

As a quick recap, Plaintiff Francine Shulman took advantage when recreational marijuana was legalized in California and started a cannabis cultivation operation. At some point, she needed financial back and guidance, so she partnered with Defendant Todd Kaplan. They and their various business entities entered into agreements, which Shulman ultimately claims were used to defraud her out of her assets and licenses.

Shulman filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California, a federal court, because two claims involved violations of RICO and two other claims involved violations of the Lanham Act (both federal statutes). RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, is a federal statute that provides for a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization (in addition to criminal penalties). We’ve written a ton of posts about RICO, but suffice it to say, it allows plaintiffs claiming a loss in property value to bring a civil suit for triple damages plus attorney’s fees against any “person” or “enterprise” that has a part in any pattern of “racketeering activity”:

RICO provides that it is “unlawful for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity . . . to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce” and proscribes conspiracy to do the same. 18 U.S.C. § 1962(b), (d).

Via an early motion to dismiss, Judge Birotte of the Central District dismissed Shulman’s two RICO claims, stating that she cannot sue under RICO because it would provide her a remedy for actions that are unequivocally illegal under federal law.

The Ninth Circuit opinion

In the January 18, 2023 Opinion and Order, the three-judge panel unanimously affirmed Judge Birotte’s ruling. They held Shuman lacked standing to bring RICO claims because in order to establish statutory standing under the statute, a plaintiff must show: “(1) that his alleged harm qualifies as injury to his business or property; and (2) that his harm was by reason of the RICO violation, which requires the plaintiff to establish proximate causation.” However, because Shulman’s “business or property” entails the cultivation, sale, and marketing of cannabis – which is all illegal under federal law – her “harm” wasn’t something that could then be remedied by federal law:

“Looking to RICO as a whole, it is clear that Congress did not intend “business or property” to cover cannabis-related commerce. When Congress enacted RICO, it expressly defined “racketeering activity” to include the “manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in” cannabis. 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1)(D); 21 U.S.C. §§ 802, 812. Because RICO’s definition of racketeering activity necessarily encompasses dealing in cannabis, it would be inconsistent to allow a business that is actively engaged in cultivation of and commerce in cannabis to recover damages under RICO for injury to that business.”

The Panel even went so far to compare cannabis to heroin because of their federally illegal status:

“Indeed, were we to substitute a drug like heroin for cannabis for the purposes of our analysis, the conclusion seems obvious: Congress could not have intended to allow a heroin dealer to recover RICO damages from someone who, by mail and wire fraud, stole a shipment of heroin. Otherwise, RICO would serve to protect the same variety of conduct it was intended to combat. For these reasons, we hold that Appellants lack a statutory right to bring a claim under RICO.”

In effect, the Ninth Circuit is affirming something akin to an illegality defense on steroids: because the statute specifically includes cannabis-related commerce within its racketeering definition, the Courts’ hands are tied and cannot help. While this has been the general trend for all RICO claims in the space, this newest Opinion makes clear things are not going to change any time soon.

For other recent articles about claims in this space, see:

And for a deeper dive, see:



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You Got Arrested for Weed, But Now Qualify for a Pardon, How Do You Apply? (Canadian Version)

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Applying for a cannabis pardon can be daunting, but it is essential to a brighter future. Due to their criminal record, many people with cannabis-related convictions may face barriers to employment, housing, and other opportunities. A pardon can help remove these barriers and provide a second chance for those who have paid their debt to society.



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New York Cannabis: Social and Economic Equity Applicants

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As we previously broadly summarized on December 27, 2022 (here), in late December 2022, the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) released its first proposed adult-use cannabis rules and regulation for New York (the “Proposed Regulations”). The official document is 282 pages, so we won’t cover every detail. But we will highlight the big-ticket items, significant issues that all applicants should be aware of, and the license application process as a whole.  This post will go into detail the Social and Economic Equity sections and commentary provided for in the Proposed Regulations.  Keep in mind, the Proposed Regulations are still pending as OCM receives the final public comments to the Proposed Regulations.

For anyone considering applying for an adult-use license, we reiterate our recommendation of hiring an experienced, local cannabis attorney. At a minimum, understanding the overall framework of the licenses and the licensing process is a precursor to an in-depth consultation on a license application.

One of the more notable topics covered in depth by the Proposed Regulations is the establishment of a social and economic equity applicant, and licensee. If you remember, the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (“MRTA”) established a goal to award 50% of all adult-use cannabis licenses to social and economic equity applicants.

During the evaluation of an application, the OCM may prioritize application submission, review, selection and issuance by social and economic equity status. Those applications that demonstrate that the applicant is seeking to qualify as a social and economic equity licensee are eligible for extra priority.

In short, to qualify as a social economic equity applicant, an applicant must demonstrate, through documentation provided to the OCM, that that sole control of the applicant is held by either:

  1. an individual from a community disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition;
  2. a minority-owned business;
  3. a women-owned business;
  4. a distressed farmer; or
  5. a service-disabled veteran owned business.

The Proposed Regulations provide for specific documents required to establish the status of the social economic applicant, with respect to any of the above.

Note that “sole control” in this context may be a misnomer. It does not mean that the applicant is the sole owner of the license, but that the social and economic equity applicant exercises the authority to, among other things: exercise authority over the business, and materially influence the day-to-day business decisions. Further, no other person or persons may exercise or have the ability to control the majority of voting rights, or remove the applicant.

If, at any time after a social and economic equity applicant has been granted a license, the Office determines that the sole control requirement is violated, the Office may institute an action to suspend or revoke such license, provided the Office provides an opportunity to cure.



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Cannabis and Orgasm Inequality – Solving the Dry Partner Phenomenon You Never Knew About!

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cannabis orgasm men vs. women

cannabis orgasm men vs. women

Cannabis and Orgasm Inequality – The Problem you didn’t know existed!

 

A recent article in Marijuana Moment brought to my attention the problem of “Orgasm Inequality”. It covered a study that was led by Amanda Moser of East Carolina University and published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

 

The Denver-based sexologist, surveyed 811 adults who have used cannabis and found that greater perceived sexual functioning and satisfaction can be achieved regardless of age or gender.

 

It appears that cannabis is a true aphrodisiac, with over 70% of participants reporting increased desire and improved orgasms when using cannabis before sex. And for those who prefer solo play, cannabis also enhances pleasure with 62.5% of participants reporting enhanced pleasure while masturbating.

 

But the study’s findings are especially relevant for women’s pleasure. The results “suggest that cannabis can potentially close the orgasm inequality gap,” the authors write, referring to past findings that women who have sex with men are typically less likely to orgasm than their partners.

 

So, ladies and gentlemen, next time you’re looking to spice things up in the bedroom, consider reaching for some cannabis.

 

 

Orgasm inequality refers to the disparity in the likelihood of men and women experiencing orgasm during sexual activity.

 

Studies have shown that men are more likely to orgasm during sexual intercourse than women. Of course, we don’t really need studies to prove that men cum quicker. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “orgasm gap” and can be attributed to a variety of factors, including societal and cultural influences, lack of education and communication about sexual pleasure, and biological differences between men and women.

 

Here’s a few more reasons why women aren’t cumming as often as men:

 

  • Lack of Communication: One of the most common reasons why women don’t experience orgasm during sex is due to a lack of communication between partners. This could include not knowing what feels good for the woman, not understanding her sexual preferences, or not being comfortable enough to express these desires.

 

  • Physical Factors: Certain physical factors can also play a role in preventing women from experiencing orgasm during sex. These can include pain during intercourse, vaginal dryness, or other health conditions such as vaginismus which causes spasms of the vaginal muscles that can make intercourse uncomfortable or impossible.

 

  • Psychological Factors: Psychological factors can also play a role in preventing women from experiencing orgasm during sex. These can include stress, anxiety, or past experiences that have left a negative impact on the woman’s sexuality. Additionally, women with low self-esteem, or body image issues may also find it hard to orgasm.

 

However, I believe that the main reason is because their partners don’t know how to please them. This is because most men are eager to get “off” and get on with their lives. Especially in a world of “one night stands”.

 

Yet when you “know what you’re doing” and you understand how to touch your partner…you can actually get women to cum quicker than men. In fact, you can give a woman multiple orgasms prior to even inserting your member into her cave of passion. Not to mention, some women can even experience orgasm via a story…literally, you could tell them how you’re gonna make them cum and they can do the rest.

 

However, most men are not such considered lovers but it seems that cannabis has the ability to mend this gap. But how exactly can a plant-based substance help close this divide? The answer lies in a combination of factors that work together to create a more satisfying sexual experience for everyone involved.

 

First, cannabis has a reputation for making people less self-conscious and more relaxed. For women, this can mean feeling less inhibited and more comfortable expressing their desires. For men, it can mean being more attuned to their partners’ needs and responding accordingly.

 

Second, cannabis is known to enhance the senses, particularly taste, touch, and smell. This can lead to a more immersive and pleasurable sexual experience, as the body is able to fully engage with the sensation of touch and the other person’s presence.

 

Third, cannabis has been shown to help people “match frequency” with their partners, both physically and mentally. This can lead to a deeper connection and understanding, as well as a more satisfying sexual experience for both parties.

 

So, next time you’re looking to spice up your sex life, consider reaching for a little bit of the green stuff. With its ability to make us less self-conscious, more attuned to our partners, and more in tune with our own bodies, cannabis just might be the key to closing the orgasm gap once and for all.

 

So get stoned and get boned!

 

CANNABIS AND SEX, READ ON…

CANNABIS USERS HAVE MORE SEX

NEW STUDY FINDS CANNABIS USERS HAVE MORE SEX, READ THIS!

 

 



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