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Cannabis industry needs to be ready for product liability claims

Right now, there's a lot of excitement in some states, including New Jersey, over new laws that make medical marijuana legal. However, that excitement may fade somewhat as growers and the makers of marijuana "edibles" start facing one of the same problems that every other drug manufacturer has to face: the product liability claim.

Anyone tempted to think that the marijuana industry is immune to such problems should take note: The legal cannabis industry has barely begun and a product liability claim has already started.

Two Colorado men filed a lawsuit against the grower that supplied their medical marijuana after learning that the company used Eagle 20, a fungicide, to kill mites, mildew and other pests that can damage a cannabis crop.

Eagle 20 also happens to contain myclobutanil, which produces hydrogen cyanide gas when burned. That means that those who smoke their marijuana may be inhaling toxic fumes along with the cannabis they're using to treat whatever illness they have. Additionally, Eagle 20 isn't even on Colorado's approved pesticide list for vegetation that's inhaled, like tobacco. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking class action status.

The lawsuit is the first known against the marijuana industry but it isn't likely to be the last, especially as growers become more like the rest of corporate America and marijuana becomes more like a regular pharmaceutical drug.

Marijuana users are likely to encounter problems with different cannabis-based products. Edibles, for example, may need to come with warning labels about potential adverse reactions and dosing instructions. If edibles aren't properly made with strict dosing per portion, someone intending to take a microdose to treat a headache might end up accidentally high.

As special strains are developed, users may experience unexpected side-effects. Someone expecting to take a dose and function may find themselves overwhelmed by a strain that's more potent than their usual brand, especially if they aren't adequately warned about the potency.

Right now, since marijuana is still not legal federally, it isn't subject to the same federal oversight as regular drugs. However, that's unlikely to stop those who feel that they've been harmed by an unsafe marijuana product from filing suit -- and possibly being successful.

If you've been injured by a pharmaceutical product, seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Pharmaceutical Drug Liability," accessed March 16, 2017

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