Marijuana a Rising Factor in Personal Injury Cases

Web Admin - Monday, September 17, 2018
Des Plaines marijuana product liability lawyerNow that 30 states (including Illinois) have legalized marijuana for medical use and nine also allow recreational use, the number of personal injury lawsuits involving cannabis is growing.

Background on the Cannabis Market

Over 100 distinct chemicals, broadly termed phytocannabinoids, are present naturally in the cannabis plant. Currently, two of the best-understood cannabinoids are THC, the psychoactive ingredient that produces a euphoric sensation, and CBD (cannabidiol), which has demonstrated pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing, neuro-protective, and cancer-fighting properties.

As scientists learn more about the way cannabinoids affect the human body and discover new applications for these chemicals, the variety of products made from cannabis is increasing. In fact, the U.S. market for legal cannabis is expected to grow 17% per year through 2028, reaching nearly $50 billion in annual sales. In comparison, U.S. wine sales are estimated at $65 billion. 

With such rapid growth, mistakes are bound to be made, and injuries are likely to result. 

Potential Grounds for Cannabis Personal Injury Lawsuits

Here are a few situations that could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against a marijuana producer/distributor: 

- Failure to warn of risks. If a cannabis product has the potential to impair a consumer’s ability to drive, or if it could affect a person’s thoughts or behavior in other ways that could prove dangerous, the packaging should provide appropriate warnings. If such warnings are not provided, and someone suffers an injury as a result, the producer/distributor could be sued for negligence and required to pay compensation to the victim. 

- Misleading or false advertising. If a producer says (in advertising, on packaging, or otherwise) that their product will provide a particular benefit, and the product fails to perform as promised, a consumer could file a lawsuit on the grounds of breach of contract or breach of warranty. 

- Product contamination. Many states do not yet have laws regulating the use of pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals on marijuana crops, nor adequate procedures to enforce such regulations or test for toxins. Many lawsuits have resulted from contaminated consumables in other industries (e.g., E. coli in ground beef), and there have already been lawsuits against marijuana producers alleging harmful contamination. 

- Unsafe packaging. Marijuana products containing THC should be provided in packaging that is both child-resistant and tamper-evident, just as is required for other medicinal products that have a potential to cause harm. Portion sizes and the amount of THC per portion should also be made very clear on product labels. Defective packaging and foreseeable misuse could become grounds for a lawsuit. 

While the probability of a fatal overdose is near zero, marijuana is an intoxicant, and overconsumption can have serious consequences. Because of the potential for personal injury lawsuits, many states are requiring marijuana businesses to purchase liability insurance, so that funds will be available to compensate consumers for injuries caused by cannabis products.

An Arlington Heights Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical cannabis product, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case and possible options for recovering compensation. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC provide skilled representation, working to protect your rights when you have been harmed by an unsafe product. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


The Status of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 15, 2015

medical marijuana in Illinois, Arlington Heights drug defense lawyerOne of the most controversial issues currently facing politics is the legalization of marijuana. Some states have gone so far as to completely legalize it, allowing recreational use of the drug. Other states, along with the federal government, have left it totally illegal. Illinois has chosen the middle ground of allowing the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. Illinois' medical marijuana law was signed in 2013, and it creates a framework for how to regulate the use of marijuana. However, there have recently been delays in the implementation of that framework, meaning that even though medical marijuana is technically legal, it is still inaccessible to Illinois residents.

General Rules

The Illinois medical marijuana law sets up both a legal framework for patients who possess marijuana, as well as for growers and distributors. Patients may apply for a medical marijuana card if they have one of almost 40 qualifying illnesses, including Parkinson's, cancer, and glaucoma. In order to get a medical marijuana card, people must also be residents of Illinois who are over the age of 18 and who do not have a criminal record.

As far as a growth and distribution framework, the law allows for 22 businesses to receive licenses to actually grow marijuana. One of these businesses will be located in each state police district. The law also authorizes a set of 60 licenses for distributors who will purchase the marijuana from the growers and sell it throughout the state. Additionally, the law creates a new 16 member board for the addition of new qualifying illnesses to the list of diseases that would allow someone to receive medical marijuana.

Recent Delays

Despite the fact that the law went into effect at the beginning of 2014, it has been plagued with implementation delays. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, state agencies spent almost a full year just developing the regulations to manage this program. So far, only 650 patients have been given their medical marijuana cards, and the numbers on the business side are even less encouraging.

Many people were hoping that Governor Quinn would award the licenses for the growers and distributors before he left office. However, that did not happen. That means that it will be up to Governor Rauner to make the decision about future licensing. Governor Quinn did make some appointments to the board that will decide about adding new illnesses before he left office, but he also left some spaces open for Governor Rauner to make more appointments.

Illinois's medical marijuana law creates a complex legal framework, and running afoul if it can result in criminal drug charges. If you have recently been charged with a drug crime, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC represents the accused in towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and Arlington Heights.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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