Cura Cannabis, which claims to be the biggest company in Oregon’s legalized marijuana market, sued a rival in California on Friday over anonymous social media posts.
Portland-based Cura alleges a competitor, Bloom Farms, created fake social media accounts to highlight sexual assault allegations against Cura investor and former chief executive Nitin Khanna.
“(Bloom Farms) wanted to use false statements to induce retailers to stop selling Cura products, get consumers to stop buying Cura products, to divert sales of Cura’s products to themselves and to other competitors, to harm Cura’s ability to fundraise, and to reduce competition in the cannabis industry,” Cura charged in its lawsuit.
The Portland Business Journal reported the suit Friday.
Cura sells wholesale cannabis oil to retailers under the brand name Select Oils. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus legal costs.
In his own statement, Bloom Farms chief executive Michael Ray did not specifically deny a role in the social media posts. Instead, he cast his company as a defender of free speech.
“This suit is yet another attempt by Select/Cura to bully competitors and silence individuals who are exercising their right to free speech by expressing their outrage and disgust over publicly available information on rape allegations against Select’s founder Nitin Khanna,” Ray wrote.
The litigation has served to highlight 2012 accusations against Khanna, who quit in May, citing the effect of the social media campaign.
In Friday’s suit, Cura says Bloom defamed Khanna and the company with social media posts that claimed he had a “history of sexual assault charges.”
Khanna faced a 2014 lawsuit by his wife’s former hairdresser. The woman and Khanna settled the 2014 suit on confidential terms and Yamhill County prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges.