What may be the first wrongful death suit against a recreational marijuana company has been filed in Colorado, a move that could set a legal precedent for the industry at large.
Richard Kirk murdered his wife Kristine Kirk after the two had consumed edible cannabis candies in 2014. Richard had exhibited disturbing and psychotic behavior on the night of the murder, including ranting about the end of the world and asking both his wife and 7 year-old son to murder him, all of which he blamed later that night on the “blood moon.”
Now that he’s on trial for first-degree murder, Kirk’s defendants found a slightly more substantial excuse for his behavior: the dose of THC he got from the edible candy. The exact amount he consumed isn’t known. Only that he had THC in his blood when his blood was tested after the murder and that a partially eaten “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” candy, which contained ten servings, each with 10 mg of THC, was found in the crime scene.
Now, Kristine Kirk’s family (her parents and sister, on behalf of her three children) is filing a lawsuit against the edible company and dispensary who supplied the Kirks with the cannabis product that supposedly caused Richard’s psychotic break, according to The Cannabist.
While alleging that THC could cause someone to murder another human being seems far-fetched at best to those familiar with cannabis’s effects, the general gripe of the lawsuit is pretty reasonable. It suggests that edible manufacturers should be held to a standard of regulation on par with the producers of legal foods and drugs. THC in high doses has, on other rare occasions, been alleged to have caused psychotic episodes in those already suffering severe mental distress.
“Edibles themselves are not the evil, it is the failure to warn, the failure to properly dose, the failure to tell the consumer how to safely use edibles, that is the evil,” the family’s lawyers Greg Gold and David Olivas said in a statement.
“The manufacturers of dog treats have shown more concern for the health and well-being of dogs that consume their product than the Edible Producers have shown for the people in our community that consume theirs,” reads the lawsuit.
The Kirk family is not likely to win the lawsuit, University of Denver marijuana law professor Sam Kamin told The Cannabist. But the legal action may make waves in the cannabis industry. No one can sue Absolute Vodka or Coors Light for its consumers crashing their cars or getting in fights, but concern over the effects of alcohol leads to better public education of its effects. Hopefully, something similar will come to pass for marijuana.
Photo via Flickr user Mark