Mother Says 'Spice' Killed Her Son
DENVER (CN) - A Kwik Stop convenience store sold a teenager the synthetic marijuana that killed him, the boy's mother claims in court.
Stephane Colbert says she found her 19-year-old son Nicholas dead in their home in September 2011. Nicholas died from "synthetic cannabinoid toxicity" caused by smoking the drug, which was labeled "Mr. Smiley," according to the complaint in Denver County Court.
Colbert sued Family Market LLC dba Kwik Stop, of Colorado Springs; its employees or agents, Alex S. Lee and Sung Soo Lee; and the unknown manufacturers of the drug, also known as Spice.
Spice has been blamed for numerous deaths and hospitalizations, but is still readily available in gas stations and convenience stores nationwide, Colbert says in the lawsuit.
She says her son bought the drug from the defendants on Sept. 21, 2011, in a bottle labeled "Mr. Smiley," which "did not list the identity of the manufacturers or distributors of the Spice."
The complaint continues: "Spice, also know as 'synthetic marijuana,' is a psychoactive 'designer drug.' Users of Spice and other 'synthetic marijuana' products have reported experiencing physical effects similar to those caused by PCP.
"On September 21, 2011, Nicholas Colbert smoked the Spice sold to him by defendants Kwik Stop, Alex Lee, and Sung Soo Lee through their employees and/or agents.
"At or about 4:40 p.m., Stephane Colbert found Nicholas Colbert dead in their home.
"On September 21, 2011, Nicholas Colbert died as a result of smoking Spice, i.e., his death was caused by synthetic cannabinoid toxicity."
In this month alone, the drug has killed three people and sent 150 others to emergency rooms in Colorado, Colbert says in the complaint.
She claims that 11,000 Americans went to hospitals after smoking synthetic marijuana in 2011.
"The use of synthetic or 'fake marijuana' has reached crisis proportions in the United States," Colbert says in the complaint, which claims that one in nine high schoolers have tried the drug.
The manufacturers know the product is dangerous, and keep their identities secret "to avoid civil and criminal liability," Colbert says. They even label their products as "not meant for human consumption," though they know that's exactly what it's for, Colbert says.
She adds: "The markings on certain containers of Spice and other forms of 'synthetic marijuana' as 'not meant for human consumption' are intended to avoid having the synthetic marijuana products identified as controlled substances or controlled substance analogues and avoid having these products classified as a drug, subjecting them to the Federal Food and Drug Administration's testing ad approval study."
Two chemical compounds used to make the drug have been federally banned, but "clandestine manufacturers and traffickers" make "slightly varied" versions of the chemicals to duck the law, Colbert says.
She claims that smoking Spice can cause memory loss and cancer, as well as death.
"Researchers have found that there is no cure for synthetic cannabinoid intoxication," the complaint states. "The use of synthetic cannabinoids has the potential for multiple long-term effects, including without limitation, immunodulation, memory loss, psychiatric complications, carcinogenicity, and dependence.
"Synthetic marijuana products such as spice have no legitimate medical purpose under federal and Colorado law and have a high potential for abuse."
Colbert seeks punitive damages for violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, product liability, negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, civil conspiracy and violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
She is represented by Christopher Jeffress, of Boulder, and by David Woodruff, with Hillyard, Wahlberg, Kudla, Sloane and Woodruff, of Denver.