How product liability works with legalized marijuana

2019-12-06T11:39:56+00:00May 24th, 2018|

As many Californians already know by now, this state has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. As a result, what was once an illegal drug sold in the shadows is now a product being sold by several upstart businesses in the state. Whether one thinks the legalization of marijuana is a good idea or not, no one can deny that as the cannabis business becomes part of the ordinary economy of this state, important new legal questions are emerging.

One might wonder, for instance, what will happen should someone use marijuana that turns out to be unsafe or, more generally, if the drug itself winds up not being as harmless as some might think currently.

Presumably, the answer is that, as with any other over-the-counter medicine, food or other product, a Californian who gets hurt by improperly cultivated or processed cannabis may have a product liability case against the manufacturer for insufficient warnings, a manufacturing defect or the like.

The good news is that a victim of unsafe cannabis may be able in some circumstances to hold the manufacturer of the product strictly liable to pay compensation for damages caused by that product. While this does not mean a victim automatically gets all of the compensation they are asking for, the strict liability standard is helpful to victims who need payment for things like medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

To this point, and in a recent development, California’s insurance regulator announced recently that the first insurance company has agreed to offer products liability coverage to businesses that are selling or growing cannabis under the state’s regulatory authority. This is additional good news for victims, since it makes it more likely that a manufacturer of cannabis will be able to pay compensation for their manufacturing mistakes.