As the legal cannabis industry grows, it will start to look more like every other business in America. That means facing lawsuits.
Two marijuana users in Colorado filed a lawsuit on Monday (Oct. 12) against a pot business they said allegedly used an unhealthy pesticide to grow their weed — a case that lawyers say is the first product liability claim in the nation involving the legal marijuana industry. The case underscores disagreement over what chemicals should be allowed in the cultivation of pot. The State of Colorado has approved a list of pesticides that are acceptable to use when growing pot, but it’s far from complete and leaves out several pesticides that are commonly used with both food and tobacco.
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The lawsuit filed in state court targets the use of a fungicide called “Eagle 20 EW,” from a Denver-based pot company called LivWell, where authorities quarantined thousands of plants earlier this year, saying they had been treated with the pesticide.
“Eagle 20 EW” is commonly used on grapes and hops, but can become dangerous when heated and is banned for use on tobacco. No research exists on whether the fungicide is safe to use on pot that will be consumed.
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In addition, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has assigned fraud investigators to review whether some marijuana companies are improperly using the word “organic” on products. Alison Malsbury, a Seattle attorney who has reviewed product liability potential in the marijuana industry and who isn’t involved in the Denver lawsuit, called the legal action a harbinger of things to come. “States need to develop comprehensive lab-testing requirements and guidelines about what pesticides are okay to use on this product,” she said. “It’s going to be treated no differently than food or beverages. We’re not there yet. But it’s headed that way.”
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