Legalization of Marijuana Use May Lead to Product Liability Claims

Published on October 11, 2016, by Matthew Sharp

Product Liability

Legalization of Marijuana Use May Lead to Product Liability Claims

Marijuana use is now legal in many states across the country, and whether used for medical or recreational purposes, it is likely product liability suits will soon follow. In fact, the first product liability claim for marijuana was filed in California in late 2015.

Growth is on the Way

The marijuana industry is still relatively small, but with new states like Nevada joining the list of places where the use of the substance is legal, the industry is growing at a steady pace. Marijuana product liability litigation may include suits for injuries that result from intoxication and any long-term medical issues that could arise, including addiction.

Businesses who sell marijuana products for medical use may also face the same sorts of claims that prescription drug companies now face: for reasons like improper warning of side-effects. There is no formal federal regulation of the marijuana industry, so there are really no mandatory minimum standards in place.

Marijuana and Product Liability Law

Within the law, product liability focuses on the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, designers, retailers and others who make products, and holds these entities liable when products cause harm to others. Product liability law mainly falls under the control of the states, so cannabis-related legislation may also be on the way in Nevada.

Safety advocates in Colorado are already concerned that distributors are getting sloppy and chemicals are being added when they are not necessary. Even if marijuana use is not legal nationwide, growers are beginning to operate in a way that is more consistent with corporate America, exposing them to the same risks of lawsuits.

In one recent suit, a consumer inhaled marijuana that was exposed to a potentially toxic fungicide. The grower had hundreds of thousands of individual plants quarantined in order to test for Eagle 20 residue, which has been linked to significant health risks.

There are still many questions regarding the science and safety of marijuana use. Because marijuana is often ingested in edible products, there is also concern about the amount used, how strong it should be and what it should be included in. Many users have been pondering these questions for some time, and there may be continued changes and revisions to laws and regulations surrounding marijuana as the industry continues to expand.