Appeal planned in synthetic marijuana suit

By Corey Williams
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — The family of a Detroit-area man who committed suicide will appeal a jury verdict that the death was not caused by the use of synthetic marijuana, according to the family’s lawyer James Rasor.

An Oakland County Circuit Court jury delivered its verdict earlier this month that synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, was not the cause of the death of John Sdao.

The ruling means the family will get no compensation after suing for $10 million.

They were ruling on a civil suit against a gas station which sold the synthetic marijuana, and its distributor.

Spice — also known as K2 and by other names — is a mix of dried herbs and spices sprayed with chemicals. It has been blamed for health problems and violent behavior, especially among young people.

Sdao hanged himself in 2012 in his bedroom closet. Packages of Spice were found on his dresser. The product was bought at the gas station in Royal Oak, just north of Detroit.

The lawsuit said Sdao’s suicide came after he consumed the Spice, said Dean Kallas, who represented the Sara Corp., which owns the gas station.

“There was never any merit to the case because the suicide was unrelated to the product, and that’s how we saw it,” Kallas said. The jury did determine that the marketing of the synthetic marijuana used by Sdao violated state consumer laws, but could not be blamed for his death, said Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren.

Rasor, the lawyer for the family, said there weren’t any other factors that could have contributed to Sdao’s suicide.

A few months after Sdao’s death, Michigan banned synthetic marijuana and state police began removing it from the shelves of shops that failed to comply with the law.

Anyone caught making, distributing or selling the substances can be charged with a felony that carries a maximum punishment of seven years in prison. Possession can bring two years.