Chocolate giant Hershey Inc. has unwrapped a legal dilemma – an edible marijuana company out of Colorado is selling chocolates that too closely resemble iconic Hershey products. The candy maker is suing the company for trademark infringement, saying the pot-infused foods were purposely designed and packaged to resemble popular Hershey candy bars.
According to the Huffington Post on June 7, Hershey’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week “against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC. It alleges TinctureBelle's Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey's Almond Joy, Heath, Reese's peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively.”
The pot company’s food items are “made with glycerine… a sugar substitute” that “tastes like honey” and is safe for diabetics. “TinctureBelle Tinctures are helpful in a variety of issues from pain to headaches to insomnia,” says EdiblesList.com.
According to the Denver Post, “Hershey says TinctureBelle's products are packaged in colors matching their famous treats, which Hershey says will confuse consumers including children. Hershey submitted a picture showing the Hashees edibles in an orange wrapper with a design that looks like a peanut butter cup. Hershey wants a judge to order TinctureBelle to stop selling its products.”
The edibles are sold in Colorado, where marijuana was legalized earlier this year. Hershey's suit alleges that over and above the trademark infringement, the TinctureBelle products “creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers” who may unintentionally eat the candies believing them to be pot-free Hershey's candy bars.
According to the Huffington Post, the lawsuit was filed as “Colorado lawmakers look to tighten safety regulations for largely unmonitored marijuana snacks that can be indistinguishable from regular candies and baked goods. Parents and doctors have said some children are eating the highly potent gummy bears, cookies, brownies and other items by mistake, sending them to hospitals in increasing numbers.”
Hershey seeks an injection against TinctureBelle to stop selling their copy-cat items, and also seeks monetary damages.
"Individuals and families the world over trust Hershey and its various brands as signifying safe and delicious treats for people of all ages," the lawsuit says.
HuffPost.com spoke about the dangers of edible pot ingestion:
More than two dozen people had reported poisonings from marijuana edibles to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center as of April, citing dizziness, nausea and hallucinations. At least six were children who swallowed innocent-looking edibles, the poison center said.
Pot critics' concerns about the marijuana-laced products were stoked by the March death of a college student who authorities said ate more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumped to his death from a hotel balcony. In April, a woman told a 911 dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating and talking about the end of the world after he had eaten a marijuana-infused candy and taken pain pills shortly before allegedly shooting her.
Supporters of the new marijuana law and some experts say alcohol causes far more problems among users, and the issues with pot can be largely addressed through better regulations.