The legalization of marijuana has gained tremendous momentum over the past few years and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. According to a report obtained by The Huffington Post, experts have said that legal marijuana is among the fastest growing markets in the United States, even faster than smart phones. The expectation is that 14 more states will legalize the drug within the next five years and legal marijuana will generate $10.2 billion annually by 2018.
As more and more states legalize the drug and the market continues to grow, manufacturers need to be aware of product liability lawsuits which are likely to come from this. New Jersey, of course, has not legalized pot for recreational use – as Colorado and Washington have done. Medical marijuana, heavily regulated and prescribed by physicians, is legal in NJ.
First, the legalization raises the question of whether marijuana manufacturers have an obligation to put warning labels, just as with cigarettes and other potentially dangerous products. If so, how detailed do these warnings need to be? What information absolutely must be included? Are there issues of addiction or health problems? Will pot affect your ability to operate heavy machinery?
There is an ongoing debate in the nation on whether or not marijuana actually has any negative health effects (or positive ones for that matter), making a health warning difficult to impose. Even if it is ruled to be unhealthy, would manufacturers have to go into detail about the particular threats?
Another issue being debated right now concerns altered, or strengthened, marijuana. One of the key ingredients in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Since many users and manufacturers look to improve the strength of the THC, this may lead to claims of product defects or consumer fraud, because a customer could potentially claim they did not get what they paid for when they made the purchase.
Many of the potential legal ramifications which experts are predicting could come from legalized marijuana have yet to be seen. Anytime a new product is introduced to the market, there will be some new legislation that comes out of it. It remains to be seen what the eventual legal fallout will be from the seemingly inevitable widespread legalization of pot.
At Garland & Mason, L.L.C., our attorneys are established leaders in the consumer protection and product liability industry. Contact us today if you’ve been misled by a manufacturer or have purchased a defective product.