Cannabis continues its Journey into Normalcy with California Consumer Protection Lawsuit
by Justin Walsh
Nov 21, 2022 — One of the side-effects of the legalization of marijuana is not one people often think about – litigation. While usually, the way this has been manifesting is lawsuits between business partners, lawsuits regarding text message marketing programs, and disputes between contractors, we are starting to see lawsuits that have been in traditional legal circles making their way into cannabis.
The first hint of this, of course, was in 2019 when we saw the first cannabis vaping lawsuit, in which I acted as the attorney for one of the defendants. The lawsuit was exciting, because it was the application of Washington Product Liability Law to this nascent world of cannabis. The lawsuit included allegations that the product – cannabis vaping cartridges – was not reasonably safe as designed, due to alleged ingredients used in the extraction process and included in the vaping oil cartridges.
As it turns out, these allegations were completely unfounded, and early agreed testing revealed that none of the processor defendants utilized Vitamin E Acetate in their cartridges.
Now, in California, consumers have brought a lawsuit alleging that a DreamFields Brands and Med for America sold them cannabis that did not contain accurately represented THC content. The claims were brought under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, which can be used to bring claims against companies that misrepresent qualities of their product. The suit was also brought “on behalf of all others similarly situated,” which is the legal language for a class action lawsuit. California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act allows for actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs, which, in a class action, can be substantial.
This case highlights an interesting problem in the industry, that of product testing. The cannabis industry, and its cousin, the hemp industry, have long had a problem with quality control in testing of cannabis products, such that actual testing standards and protocols are far from standardized and can lead to widely differing results. This could mean that a product manufacturer could be selling product representing THC content, cannabinoid profiles, pesticide content, or other qualities that are misleading because their testing company has provided false or improperly tested results to them.
Always be sure that your testing company has been vetted, and it is usually best to cross-check your test results occasionally utilizing a separate lab than your usual. As with all things business, trust, but verify.
If you have questions regarding any cannabis-related legal issue, contact one of our attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email me directly at email@example.com.