Opinions in blog posts are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of 1.800.NoCuffs and The Kavinoky Law Firm.


There are a variety of laws that regulate and punish illegal marijuana-related activities. For example, local, state and federal authorities may use felony conspiracy laws to prosecute suspected persons and their business associates who knowingly participate in a scheme designed to violate the law, even if one of the suspected individual’s didn’t have any direct involvement in the manufacture or distribution of the marijuana. There are even specific federal variations on conspiracy laws that charge those who are suspected of participating in marijuana trafficking operations with the operation of a continuing criminal enterprise or with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Federal and state racketeering (that is, carrying on illegal business activities that involve crimes), profiteering, and RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization) laws make it illegal for criminal organizations to profit from any otherwise legitimate business operations. Violations of these laws typically lead to the confiscation and seizure of the criminal organization’s legitimate enterprise assets and are typically used against known “organized crime” groups. The goal of these laws is to financially cripple the suspected operation by cutting off the sources of cash that support its ongoing criminal activity.

These RICO laws apply to the commission of two or more specific offenses that constitute a “pattern of racketeering activity” or to the collection of an “unlawful debt”. A “pattern of racketeering activity” requires at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after October 5, 1970, and the last of which occurred within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity. “Unlawful debt” refers to debts that were incurred as a result of gambling activity. As a result, marijuana-related activities are usually prosecuted under RICO’s “pattern of racketeering activity’s” provisions.

RICO laws (as they apply to marijuana-related offenses) hold that it is illegal for anyone to receive any income from a pattern of racketeering activity or to use or invest any part of that income in the acquisition of any interest in or the establishment or operation of any enterprise which is engaged in or affects the activities of interstate or foreign commerce. The laws also hold that it is similarly illegal for anyone to acquire or maintain interest in such an enterprise or for an employee or associate of such an enterprise to conduct or participate in the conduct of that enterprise. Conspiring to violate any of these laws is also illegal under RICO.

Criminal penalties that face an individual convicted under RICO laws include substantial fines and a maximum 20 year prison sentence. In addition, the individual will be required to forfeit any interest in the enterprise and any property constituting or derived from any proceeds obtained from the racketeering activity. This property includes real property, tangible and intangible personal property and all rights, title and interest in any such property, regardless of its location. A temporary restraining order may also be filed by the government without notice or a hearing if no criminal charges have yet been filed against the property owner if the government demonstrates that there is reason to believe that the desired property would, in the event of a conviction, be subject to forfeiture and that giving notice will jeopardize the availability of the property for forfeiture.

Civil penalties that may be issued against an individual convicted of a RICO violation include orders to divest of any interest in any enterprise, restrictions on the individual’s future activities, orders to dissolve or reorganize the guilty enterprise and restitution to innocent parties. It should also be noted that a criminal conviction under these laws will prevent the accused from denying the allegations in a subsequent civil proceeding.

The rules that regulate RICO laws are specific and technical, which is why it is critical that an individual charged with a RICO violation immediately contacts an attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law. To learn more, contact the outstanding criminal attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.