Kushy Punch Profited from Unsafe, Potentially Deadly THC EdiblesThe legalization of Cannabis use in numerous states across the country brought an odd combination of controversy and relief. Many individuals have argued for years that the medicinal benefits far outweigh any health dangers and legal consequences. Numerous states put the question on the ballot and have allowed citizens to purchase and consume marijuana and THC products, including edibles from companies such as Kushy Punch.

The District of Columbia is just one of the many places where citizens can legally purchase these products provided they are registered patients who have received a recommendation from their physician. Just like Washington, D.C., the State of California legalized the purchase and consumption of marijuana and related products, but a recent wrongful death lawsuit is shining the spotlight on the potential danger of edibles.

What are edibles?

Edibles are just what they sound like. Instead of smoking marijuana, the same chemical compounds can be incorporated into food products and consumed to get the same result. The chemicals extracted and added to edibles such as baked goods and candies are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These products have become a hit among non-smokers and those with respiratory issues that make traditional smoking a non-starter.

Edibles are regulated for safety

The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) oversees regulating the safe manufacture and packaging of commercial cannabis. While it is very difficult to overdose on THC alone, using an improper production process can leave dangerous ingredients behind in unsafe levels. Kushy Punch produced its gummies in an unlicensed manufacturing facility using an ethanol extraction process, which was also found in the product.

Kushy Punch is under investigation for illegally producing gummies in the state and selling them through legitimate sources so that customers would have no tell-tale sign that they were consuming a dangerous product. The company made approximately $64 million from this activity and offers an outlet to purchase their products in Washington, D.C. through a company called Exotic Blooms, potentially placing our unsuspecting citizens at risk.

Some of the ingredients detected in the gummies were acetonitrile, butane, and other solvents, however the packaging also:

  • Failed to provide any or sufficient warnings as to the consumption of edibles
  • Gave false dosage limits
  • Neglected to indicate potential side effects or health risks
  • Used colorful kid-friendly and accessible packaging
  • Came in candy fruity flavors constituting an attractive nuisance
  • Omitted information on individual consumer variability and delay or onset of effects

The cost of eating THC gummies was tragedy

There’s a health risk associated with THC edibles when they are improperly manufactured and marketed as safe. Kushy Punch’s inadequate packaging left users no way of knowing how much THC was being consumed in a single gummy, much less what else might have been hidden within the ingredients through processing. Le’Sharia Bre’aun Steele died in October 2018 after ingesting Kushy Punch gummies. Steele became a victim of improper advertising of an unsafely produced THC edible that is believed to have caused her death.

Steele, who was otherwise very healthy, experienced the following issues before her death

  • Cardiovascular complicatons
  • Respiratory complications
  • Psychiatric complications
  • Dysphoria
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Terrifying heart racing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Mental and physical uncharacteristic outbursts
  • Severe panic attacks

Ms. Steele’s parents have filed a wrongful death suit against Vertical Bliss, the parent company of Kushy Punch, in large part based on advertising their product as healthy and promoting wellbeing. The company’s claims paired with their daughter being health conscious played a substantial part in her choice to take the gummies that took her life.

The complaint also alleges that Kushy Punch should have known that eating THC products has been linked to increased hospitalization and a plethora of serious health conditions including:

  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Arrhythmias
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Arterial vasospasms
  • Stress cardiomyopathy

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202.463.1999.