Parents of a teen from Georgia have filed a wrongful death suit against the distributers and manufacturers of a synthetic marijuana alleged to have killed their son. Chase Burnett, 16 years old, drowned in a hot tub on March 4, 2012. This suit is believed to be the first against a manufacturer or distributer of synthetic marijuana.
The suit alleges that Peyton Palaio, owner of Lunar Labs and WG Distribution, sold Mojo Diamond Extreme 100X Potpourri to the convenience store where Chase purchased the drug. Mojo Diamond Extreme 100X Potpourri – a brand name for synthetic pot – was found next to the hot tub that Chase drowned in. Synthetic marijuana is made of plant material and sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Following Chase’s death in March, Governor Nathan Deal signed Chase’s Law, named after Burnett. That law briefly outlawed synthetic marijuana during April, but chemists subsequently were able to find away around the ban by changing the molecular structure of synthetic marijuana. The Georgia State Board of Pharmacy responded by issuing an emergency ruling. But emergency rulings only grant law enforcement the authority to seize synthetic marijuana; it does not allow for arrests or criminal prosecution.
Synthetic marijuana is not the only substance Palaio distributes. Palaio is a well-known manufacturer and distributer who has previously made and sold bath salts. Palaio’s lawyer has responded to the suit, claiming that Palaio has “absolutely no connection” to synthetic marijuana. According to Palaio’s answer, he did not even know what Mojo Extreme was when he was sued.