In October of 2015, the cannabis industry had its first legal setback that was not relating to the question of legalization, as many previous marijuana lawsuits. The setback relates to the industry’s first cannabis product liability lawsuit filed in Colorado. The lawsuit challenges the production process of the cannabis industry, specifically regarding certain manufacturing procedures.
What’s the Issue?
In Flores v. LivWell, Inc., the plaintiffs allege that the fungicide Eagle 20 was “intentionally applied” to thousands of marijuana plants at a Denver facility. Brandon Flores and Brandie Larrabee, the two marijuana smokers who brought up the lawsuit, are seeking class-action status against LiveWell Inc, one of the largest legal cannabis growers in the state.
The plaintiffs argue that LivWell failed to adequately warm medicinal and recreational cannabis users about the dangers associated with a fungicide used in the manufacturing process. Neither plaintiff alleges they were sickened in any way from marijuana produced by LivWell.
Both plaintiffs are suing for damages, including economic damages because they feel the marketing of the product was misleading, and their health was endangered. They claim they would not have purchased the product if they had been warned it was sprayed with Eagle 20 and they claim to have overspent to buy marijuana.
What is Eagle 20?
Eagle 20 is a commonly used fungicide meant to kill mites and pests that flock to crops. It allegedly contains a chemical known as Myclobutanil, which when heated, breaks down into hydrogen cyanide, a dangerous poison.
Due to this reaction, Eagle 20 is approved for vegetation that is not inhaled, however it is not approved for plants like tobacco because of the toxic fumes created when it is burned. There is no federal law that specifically allows on pesticides on marijuana, since marijuana is still considered an illegal drug at the federal level.
Colorado Department of Health Steps In
After it was revealed in 2015 that LivWell might have allegedly used Eagle 20, the Colorado Department of Health placed a hold on thousands of marijuana plants. Some estimates claim that up to 60,000 plants were held. With the legal status of hold being murky at best, Livwell quickly claimed that there was no legitimate legal reason for the hold.
The hold was eventually lifted after the plants were tested and found to be well within the state’s acceptable limit for vegetation. However, the plaintiffs argue that the plants would not have tested within the limits for tobacco and other plants that are most likely to be inhaled.
This lawsuit is currently pending and expected to go through court relatively fast. LivWell has denied all claims made by the plaintiffs and the company continues to see continued growth in many new markets.
The Cannabis industry is hoping to have this first setback cleared up as soon as possible; however, some companies and individuals in the industry are worried that this lawsuit could open the floodgates for future lawsuits, especially as more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. No other state lawsuits have been filed yet to this date, so it doesn’t appear like anything major is going to set the industry back for at least the near future.
Judge Tosses Lawsuit
Denver District Judge J. Eric Eliff dismissed the lawsuit stating that consumers behind the case were not actually harmed; they purchased the marijuana and used it without repercussion.