Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"A first for the marijuana industry: A product liability lawsuit"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new Los Angeles Times article, and here is how the article gets started:

For years, Brandan Flores has treated his chronic back pain with marijuana, a remedy he champions as a natural alternative to traditional medication. But recently he heard rumblings that his drug of choice might be less wholesome than he had imagined.

"There was talk about Eagle 20," he said, "and it concerned me right away." Eagle 20 is a fungicide used to kill mites, mildew and assorted pests that flock to plants like hops and grapes. It also contains a chemical called myclobutanil, which produces hydrogen cyanide gas when burned.

Stunned that he might be inhaling toxic fumes, Flores and fellow medicinal pot user Brandie Larrabee, a brain tumor patient, sued the grower this week, filing the first product liability lawsuit against the marijuana industry. "I want these companies to take a step back and look at what they are putting into their products," said Flores, 24, who sued in Denver District Court. "These warehouses are getting big and really sloppy. They are adding chemicals to make things more efficient and more potent. But there are so many chemicals now that you might as well get prescription medication."

The target of the suit, LivWell Inc., owns nine pot shops in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use last year. LivWell operates one of the largest grow houses in the world. Company lawyer Dean Heizer did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier, he told the Associated Press that LivWell had stopped using Eagle 20 and that no consumer illnesses had been linked to marijuana pesticides.

In April, Colorado quarantined 60,000 pot plants from LivWell to check for Eagle 20 residue. The hold was lifted when only low levels of the chemical were found. Afterward, LivWell owner John Lord released a statement saying laboratory tests of his plants "showed that our products are safe — as we always maintained."

Neither Flores nor Larrabee contends that the marijuana has harmed them. But they say they would have never inhaled it if they knew it could release what the lawsuit calls "poisonous hydrogen cyanide." Their attorney, Steven Woodrow, said the growers "either knew or acted in disregard of the facts" when they sprayed the plants with Eagle 20. "The state of Colorado has a list of approved pesticides for marijuana," he said. "This is not one of them."

Woodrow said this is the first lawsuit to challenge the marijuana industry's grow methods. He is seeking class-action status for the suit and expects more plaintiffs to join in. "Unless the industry cleans itself up, we can expect more lawsuits like this in the future," he said.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2015/10/a-first-for-the-marijuana-industry-a-product-liability-lawsuit.html

Business laws and regulatory issues, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink

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