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With Marijuana Now Legal, Can Sellers Be Sued for Harm It May Cause?

With Marijuana Now Legal, Can Sellers Be Sued for Harm It May Cause?

Lawsuits against marijuana sellers and distributors may begin as the product is sold and used more widely

With Marijuana Now Legal, Can Sellers Be Sued for Harm It May Cause?

Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, dispensaries are popping up across the state. While cannabis remains illegal under federal law, its possession and use is legal for adults aged 21 and older in California (subject to certain limits). However, oversight and regulation of the industry is relatively limited. Lawmakers are struggling to regulate an industry that is booming — which may lead to issues as more sellers and distributors of marijuana offer products to an unsuspecting public.

According to a California products liability attorney, the dramatic increase in marijuana sales is similar to what occurred in the supplement industry after the passage of the Federal Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. This law allowed any supplement marketed before 1994 to be marketed without approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, businesses were able to sell potentially dangerous supplements — often without any real consequence.

A similar issue may arise with the sale of marijuana, which is not regulated by the FDA because it is not legal in most states or federally. In California, the Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) has created a framework for the regulation of cannabis. However, these laws have not necessarily caught up to the speed of the products coming onto the market. For example, many cannabis products do not have dosage limits, or even information about how different products may affect people. In many cases, there may be no way for consumers to determine what exactly is in a product — let alone how it will interact with their body — without consuming it.

For example, consider a situation where a person purchases a marijuana dispensary and buys cannabis. He doesn’t know that it was treated with a particular type of pesticide when it was grown. The clerk knew that it was treated with pesticide, but was busy at the time and didn’t warn him. He ingests the marijuana, and has a severe allergic reaction to it because of the chemicals in the pesticide.

As a general rule, if a dangerous or defective product causes harm to a consumer, the manufacturer, retailer or distributer of that product may be liable for any harm that it causes. This is known as a products liability case. These claims are brought on one of three theories: (1) the product was defectively manufactured; (2) the product had a defective design; or (3) the defendant failed to warn consumers about how to properly use the product. In the example given above, a products liability case may be based on a failure to warn.

If marijuana products cause harm to consumers, then they should be able to file a lawsuit for any losses suffered as a result. At PLBSH, we believe that people who are injured as a result of a dangerous or defective product — even one that is natural, like marijuana — should be able to recover for their losses. We offer top-notch legal representation to each of our clients so that they can get the money that they deserve. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or to schedule a consultation with a California products liability attorney or learn more about how we can help.

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