The family of 44-year-old Kristine Kirk, a mother of three fatally shot in 2014 by her partner, have filed the first wrongful-death lawsuit against America's legal marijuana industry.
Richard Kirk says he pulled the trigger on his wife after eating part of a Karma Kandy Orange Ginger chew containing 100mg of cannabinoids.
His wife called 911 after Kirk became paranoid, threatening her and the couple's three children, all of whom were present in the home. Kirk now faces one count of first-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and remains at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.
Prosecutors allege Richard Kirk tested positive for only low amounts of THC after the shooting, and killed his wife intentionally for reasons related to money and marital stress, not cannabis intoxication. Despite early reports that Kirk had taken prescription pain pills as well as eaten part of the edible, no alcohol or other drugs were detected in his system.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the children - now 9, 13, and 15 - by Kristine's parents, Wayne and Marti Kohnke, and her sister, Tamara Heman, who say edibles manufacturer Gaia's Garden, and seller, Nutritional Elements Inc., "recklessly and intentionally" failed to include information on the potency of the candy and its potential side effects on the label. Nutritional Elements, a Denver area marijuana show, has since pulled edibles from their shelves.
There's been just one other death linked with marijuana products since the plant was legalized in Colorado: in March 2014, a teenage college student visiting Denver jumped to his death from a hotel balcony after eating marijuana-infused cookies. The Denver coroner ruled his death as due to "multiple injuries" from the fall, but listed "marijuana intoxication" as a significant contributing condition.
Since January 2015, edibles manufacturers in Colorado have been subject to new regulations requiring recreational edibles be demarcated in individually-wrapped increments of 10mg of THC or less apiece.
While both situations are tragic, the likelihood of Kristine Kirk's family winning the lawsuit may be low, Sam Kamin, professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, told the Post.
"We don't hold liquor stores responsible, and we don't hold vodka producers responsible for drunk drivers."
h/t The Denver Post,