Do Dram Shop Laws Apply To Edibles?

November 3, 2021

Although, there are currently no federal equivalent marijuana laws to dram shop laws, an establishment can be liable for damages resulting from intoxication. This liability arises if the store knowingly sold products to an intoxicated person. It also arises if the establishment failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm caused by selling a person under-dosed or highly potent products.

What is a dram shop law?

A dram shop law is generally a type of state liquor liability law. This law imposes liability on an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person who ends up sustaining serious injuries or causing death or damages to himself/herself or others.

Proving fault in marijuana dram shop lawsuits

In a state that does not have specific laws regulating the sale of marijuana edibles, it may be challenging to prove fault on the part of a dispensary for selling under-dosed or highly potent THC edibles. In other words, there must be proof that the store knowingly sold products to a patron who was intoxicated and/or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm caused by selling him or her under-dosed or highly potent products.

An establishment can defend against a claim of negligence for over-serving intoxicated patrons by using evidence that the patron was served alcohol willingly and voluntarily. In other words, the defendant (the store) will have to show that it made every effort to avoid serving an intoxicated person, but the patron ultimately decided to consume more alcohol. If it can be shown that an intoxicated person was served willingly and voluntarily, the defendant might avoid liability for injuries caused by overconsumption of THC edibles.

A marijuana dispensary can also defend against a claim for negligently overserving an intoxicated patron if it can show that the person was not visibly intoxicated. In other words, there must be proof that a reasonable person would have been able to determine a patron was visibly intoxicated and dangerous if it became necessary for ejection from the premises.

Does it matter if an intoxicated person consumed marijuana or THC edibles instead of alcohol?

Although, most states’ dram shop laws only permit suit against bar establishments for injuries resulting from overconsumption of alcoholic beverages, some states allow lawsuits against marijuana dispensaries for damages resulting from overconsumption of THC edibles. This is not to say that cannabis dispensaries can be sued without any restrictions. For example, some states have held that marijuana retail establishments are not liable for injuries or damages resulting from overconsumption of THC edibles. These states argue that there is no general duty on the part of a marijuana business establishment to its customers under dram shop liability laws.

Cannabis use and car crashes

Motor vehicle accidents due to marijuana intoxication have been a prominent issue in states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana. The burden of proof for such accidents — assuming there were no other factors present — would presumably be on the accused party. In this case, the accused party is the business establishment serving alcohol or marijuana.In general, a state’s dram shop law will compensate persons who were injured or hurt in a crash by intoxicated patrons in two scenarios. First, the server was negligent in serving alcohol to a patron. Second, the server knew or should have known the patron was intoxicated and continued to serve alcohol.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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