Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Maker and Distributor of Edible Marijuana

Kristine Kirk was allegedly shot and killed by her husband in 2014.

ByABC News
June 2, 2016, 12:04 PM

— -- A new lawsuit alleges that an edible marijuana manufacturer and a Colorado dispensary recklessly failed to warn a Colorado man about the product’s potency and side effects. The lawsuit claims the THC-infused candy the man ate played a key role in the night he allegedly shot and killed his wife.

Kristine Kirk, 44, called 911 on April 14, 2014, worried that her husband, Richard Kirk, had "taken some marijuana."

She told the dispatcher he was "talking like it was the end of the world and wanted her to shoot him" and that he was "totally hallucinating."

The 911 operator heard gunshots just minutes later.

"He grabbed the gun and she's screaming and the line disconnected," a police officer said in a dispatch recording.

The couple's three young sons were present in the home at the time of the shooting but were physically unharmed.

"The last sound that they heard of hers, that they'll ever hear, was her scream," Kristine's mother, Marti Kohnke, told local ABC station KMGH-TV in 2014. Kohnke, along with her husband, Wayne, and Kristine's sister are now the legal guardians of the children.

Richard Kirk, now 50, is in jail awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges for the death of his wife. He has plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

According to police, Kirk had eaten a portion of a 10-pack of pot-laced candy on the night of the shooting.

Kirk's attorneys are suggesting the pot-laced candy he consumed may have contributed to a psychotic episode. The chewy candy, Karma Kandy Orange Ginger, contains 10 milligrams per serving of THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

The guardians of the Kirks' three children have filed a first of its kind wrongful-death lawsuit against the maker of the candy, Gaia's Garden LLC, and its distributor, Nutritional Elements Inc.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in May in Denver, alleges that "the edible producers negligently, recklessly and purposefully concealed vital dosage and labeling information.” It also claims the packaging doesn't warn buyers that the high from edibles could lead to "paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations."

ABC News legal analyst Brian Claypool says that in this case, with which he is not involved, "We don't have a lot of literature on what the side effects could be on someone who has ingested recreational marijuana, so a manufacturer could potentially be held liable for that."

Gaia's Garden directed ABC News to a statement an attorney for the company issued to the Los Angeles Times this week. In the statement, the attorney, Sean McAllister, called the lawsuit's claims "preposterous and baseless" and said the company was, "complying with all state labeling requirements at the time that say marijuana can have adverse health effects."

Nutritional Elements Inc. did not immediately reply to ABC News.

Addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky told ABC News today that ingesting marijuana’s active ingredient THC can have a more unpredictable effect than smoking.

“With edibles, the effects come much later and whatever you've ingested, the amount is going to get into your system so you can't, there's no going back. Once you ingested it goes on," Pinsky said on "Good Morning America." "You can have adverse reactions to cannabis and unfortunately they're not common and can be quite severe.”