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Now that legal pot is here, expect defective pot lawsuits to follow

This article looks at how with marijuana now legal in California, the industry will be subject to liability laws.

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in California, at least under state law. With legalization comes regulation of an industry that was once almost solely a criminal enterprise. That regulation means that businesses that grow, distribute, and sell marijuana will have to abide by strict standards. Failing those standards could result in product recalls and litigation over defective products. In fact, as Business Insurance reports, the California Insurance Department recently approved the state's first product liability and recall insurance program for cannabis businesses, in a sign that defective product claims are likely to be in the burgeoning industry's future.

How common are cannabis recalls?

As a legal and regulated industry, marijuana is still very new. That makes getting reliable statistics on marijuana recalls a bit challenging. Nonetheless, states that legalized marijuana before California have already had a number of problems with some cannabis products that resulted in those products having to be recalled.

In February, for example, a large marijuana dispensary chain in Denver, Colorado had to recall their pre-rolled joints over concerns that they contained dangerously high levels of yeast and mold, according to The Denver Channel.

Last year, according to the Capital Press, Oregon issued its first recall of a recreational marijuana product after a brand sold at a certain store was found to contain pesticides in excess of state limits.

While California has yet to issue a recall of any of its products, that does not mean the products being sold are free of contaminants. As The Cannabist reports, cannabis products sold in California on January 1, 2018 (when pot became legal) were almost all grown before regulatory controls were put in place. Tests of 15 dispensaries in Southern California found that 93 percent of samples collected contained pesticides.

Expecting product complaints

Given that marijuana is quickly become a legitimate and legal industry in much of the nation, it follows that the marijuana industry will soon have to contend with what any legitimate manufacturing and retail industry must deal with: product liability.

That fact was acknowledged when the California Insurance Department announced recently that cannabis businesses would soon be able to get coverage for product liability and product recalls. The coverage will be offered to businesses with licenses as cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and medical. Laboratory testing licenses will not be included in the program.

Defective products

When consumers buy a product, they expect that it will function as promised and that it will not pose a danger to their health. California has strong product liability laws protecting consumers if they purchase products that are dangerous, defective, or recalled. A product liability attorney can assist consumers who may have been sold a defective product, including by possibly helping them pursue compensation.

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