- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A marijuana dispensary and a company that makes cannabis-infused edibles are being sued by the family of a Denver man accused of killing his wife after consuming a pot-laced candy.

An amended complaint filed Monday on behalf of the couple’s three children alleges the dispensary when Richard Kirk purchased a “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” candy and the company that makes the product should be held responsible as well for the woman’s death.

According to the Denver Post, which first reported the lawsuit Tuesday, the filing is likely “the country’s first wrongful-death lawsuit against the recreational marijuana industry.”

“While nothing can bring their parents back, this lawsuit will seek justice and change in an edible industry that is growing so fast it failed these young kids,” reads a statement sent to the Post by Greg Gold and David Olivas, attorneys for Kristine Kirk’s parents, Wayne and Marti Kohnke. “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 Kohnkes were granted guardianship of their three grandchildren, now ages 9, 13 and 15, following their daughter’s death on April 14, 2014.

Kirk had called 911 earlier that day and said her husband had been “totally hallucinating,” the Post reported. Mr. Kirk had purchased the edible earlier that day from Nutritional Elements, a Denver dispensary, and tested positive for a small amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, within hours of his wife’s death.

Mr. Kirk, who faces one count of first-degree murder, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Although Colorado has since adopted new measures and regulations regarding the manufacturing and sale of marijuana-infused edibles, the lawsuit filed by Kohnke’s lawyers on behalf of the Kirk children said the dispensary and company that made the candy, Gaia’s Garden, should be held responsible for the woman’s death.

The lawsuit claims Nutritional Elements and Gaia’s Garden “negligently, recklessly and purposefully concealed vital dosage and labeling information from their actual and prospective purchasers, including Kirk, in order to make a profit,” the Post reported.

Mr. Kirk is also named as a defendant in the suit, with the attorneys for the Kohnkes alleging he acted negligently when he voluntarily became intoxicated by consuming the edible, the Post reported.

The CEO of Nutritional Elements declined to comment Tuesday when reached by the Post, while a representative for Gaia’s Garden said the company “will vigorously defend ourselves against this attempt to shift responsibility away from the murderer to a substance that is less harmful than alcohol and does not lead to violence.”

Colorado in 2014 became the first state in the U.S. to allow adults to legally purchase and possess marijuana for recreational purposes, and similar measures have since been passed in Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and D.C.


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