POLITICS

Group Urges Holiday Inn Boycott Following Lawsuit To Shut Down Colorado Marijuana Industry

02/20/2015 03:10 pm ET | Updated Feb 20, 2015

One of the nation's largest marijuana policy reform groups is calling for a nationwide boycott of Holiday Inn after a hotel management company that owns a Holiday Inn in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit Thursday aiming to shut down the state's legal and regulated marijuana program.

Marijuana Policy Project urged a boycott of the hotel brand after New Vision Hotels Two, LLC filed a lawsuit claiming that they have already lost business at their Holiday Inn location in Frisco, Colorado, and fear that the brand could be damaged due to a nearby state-legal retail marijuana shop and grow operation that hasn't opened yet.

In the suit, New Vision claims that some hotel guests are opting out of lodging at the Frisco Holiday Inn location because of a proposed nearby marijuana shop, and that guests are concerned about potential crime that the new shop could bring with it. The suit argues that under the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause, which states that federal law generally takes precedence over state law, Colorado's regulation of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional, because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

“A majority of Americans want to end marijuana prohibition, and we expect many of them would prefer not to spend their money at businesses that are fighting to maintain it," Mason Tvert, communications director for MPP, said. "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."

On Friday morning, MPP called for the boycott in an email newsletter sent to about 200,000 subscribers, as well as on its Facebook and Twitter pages. MPP also launched a Change.org petition calling on New Vision Hotels Two to withdraw its lawsuit and urged Holiday Inn's parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group, to support a withdrawal of the suit. At the time of publishing, the petition had already received close to 5,000 signatures.

"The lawsuit undermines a set of laws and regulations that were designed to make Colorado communities safer by ensuring quality-controlled marijuana is produced and sold by licensed, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels and criminals," the Change.org petition reads.

Colorado voters strongly approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state, in 2012, and the first retail marijuana shops opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014. Though the industry has undergone some trial and error since then and there have been some worrying episodes -- largely about the regulation of edible products -- a July 2014 report from the Brookings Institution concluded that the rollout of the new marijuana laws has been largely successful thus far.

Colorado's marijuana industry has ballooned to a value of around $700 million and the state has taken in about $60 million in taxes and fees, some of which is going toward school construction and renovation.

Today, more than a year since sales began, Colorado voters still don't appear to regret ending prohibition of the drug.

"IHG, owner of the Holiday Inn brand, holds the comfort and well-being of our guests and employees as our top priority and concern," said Jordan Worrall, communications manager for InterContinental Hotels Group's Holiday Inn brands, to The Huffington Post on Friday. "IHG-branded hotels are required to comply with their license agreement and all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations, and codes. The Holiday Inn Frisco, Colorado, hotel is an independently owned and operated hotel and the owners are free to express their views. We cannot comment on ongoing litigation involving a franchised property."

New Vision Hotels Two did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This article has been updated to include a statement from InterContinental Hotels Group.

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