Denver County Fair's pot pavilion wasn't supposed to have any cannabis on the premises, but several people have reported feeling sick and dizzy after eating candy bars given to them by a pavilion vendor, with two men going to the hospital -- and one of them filing a class-action lawsuit about the incident.
We've got statements from the fair and the vendor about a controversy that continues to build.
Earlier this week, Denver media outlets reported that a man required hospitalization after eating a candy bar at the fair's new, 21+ pot pavilion. Richard Jones thought he was having a stroke or a heart attack after the unexpected effects of digesting marijuana, which he says he'd never tried before in his life.
"I was sweaty. I was nauseous. I was panicking," Jones told 7News.
Jones was only the first to come forward. On Wednesday, two more people claimed the same chocolates given to them at the fair made them feel similar to the way Jones had. All three say they received the candy bars from a LivWell dispensary vendor, who told them that the samples did not contain marijuana. However, tests showed that Jones had more than 100 nanograms of THC in his system -- at least twenty times the legal driving limit.
Jordan Coombs, another man who required hospitalization after eating the chocolate, also tested positive for THC, as he recounts in the aforementioned lawsuit, which maintains that he was so sickened by the candy that during the drive away from the fair -- with his wife behind the wheel, fortunately -- he "projectile vomited uncontrollably in his car."
Kari Mitchell, a third attendee who reported feeling ill from the candy, told Fox31 she asked the vendor multiple times if the candy contained any marijuana. The vendor repeatedly said no.
Dana Cain as she appeared on a 2011 Westword cover about Colorado creatives.
Denver County Fair officials and LivWell owners have acknowledged the situation, and both released statements regarding their investigations into the matter. First up is fair director Dana Cain:
After the close of the fair, it was brought to our attention that there may have been an incident at the fair, involving sampling of Full Melt Chocolate Bars in the 21+ Pot Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. We alerted the Denver Police Dept and are currently working with the Marijuana Enforcement Division on an investigation. They are investigating Full Melt Chocolates and LivWell, the related company that contracted the booth in question. Additionally, our lawyer is in touch with Full Melt Chocolate. During our event we had a very strict policy that all of our vendors agreed to, banning all marijuana and THC products from the fair. The safety of our attendees is our top priority.
LivWell owners Ben Burkhardt and John Lord say any marijuana-infused candy samples given away at the fair were distributed without their knowledge or the company's sanction. Here's part of Burkhardt's statement:
We are currently thoroughly investigating what may have occurred, and are happy to offset medical expenses from fair attendees that have been legitimately affected. I did speak to Richard Jones, the gentleman on the news last night, about an hour ago, and offered to honor his request that his medical costs be reimbursed.
Both Jones and Coombs left the hospital in good shape after the effects of the candy wore off. Jones told 7News that while he was displeased with the police response (a Denver Police Department spokesman says the matter is under investigation), he'd be fine if his medical costs were covered.
Coombs wants more. The lawsuit -- which targets LivWell and Beyond Broadway LLC, Full Melt's business name, but not the Denver County Fair -- lists five calls for action and asks for "an amount that is fair and reasonable, for costs, and for any other relief the Court deems proper." Moreover, this request isn't made for Coombs alone, but for anyone else who may have been sickened after eating a pot edible at the Denver County Fair. This implies that more victims may be out there and could still surface as time moves forward.
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Look below to see a 7News report featuring Jones, followed by the complete lawsuit.