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Teen’s Drowning Blamed on Synthetic Pot

ATLANTA (CN) - A 16-year-old boy drowned in his family's hot tub after smoking synthetic marijuana, his parents claim in a lawsuit against the drugmaker and distributor.

David and Yvette Burnett sued Peyton Palaio, Omerta Labs, WG Distribution and Lunar Labs, in Fulton County Superior Court.

The Burnetts say their son Chase died on March 4 after smoking synthetic marijuana made and distributed by Palaio and his companies.

Chase was a high school honors student and soccer player "in perfect health and good physical condition," his parents say.

But according to the complaint: "In the early morning of March 4, 2012, Chase Burnett's father, David Burnett, found his son dead, floating in the family's hot tub.

"Mr. Burnett discovered an open package of synthetic cannabinoid beside the hot tub that was labeled 'Mojo Diamond Extreme 100x Potpourri.'"

The parents say the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab found that the Mojo Diamond contained AM-2201, a synthetic marijuana product" that can cause severe injury, altered mental and emotional states, illness and death."

"Synthetic marijuana is made by applying chemicals such as AM-2201 that mimic the effects of natural cannabis to benign herbs and plants," the complaint states.

"While Mojo Diamond and other synthetic marijuana products are labeled as 'potpourri' and often have the words 'not for human consumption' on the package to avoid regulation and liability, there is no reason to add synthetic cannabinoid chemical compounds to potpourri other than to generate a 'high' from smoking or otherwise inhaling the smoke from burning the mixture of herbs and chemicals.

"Mojo Diamond is an inherently dangerous product when used for the purposes it is manufactured and sold.

"Mojo Diamond and other synthetic marijuana products do not come with any warnings about the dangers of smoking or otherwise inhaling the smoke from burning the product."

The Burnetts say the Mojo Diamond that caused their son's death was manufactured by the defendants, who sold it to convenience stores for resale to consumers.

They claim the defendants knew the product is dangerous, and that many of the customers who buy synthetic marijuana are minors, who assume that the product, being sold legally, is safe to smoke and inhale.

The parents say the defendants violated the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 and other federal laws, because synthetic marijuana is chemically similar to controlled substances.

They seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, strict liability and Georgia RICO violations.

They are represented by Kristofer Schleicher, with Joyce, Thrasher, Kaiser & Liss.

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