In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, the parents of a Fayette County teen who died after smoking synthetic marijuana have filed a wrongful death suit against the man they allege produced the product.
On March 4, 16-year-old Chase Burnett drowned in a hot tub. An opened package of synthetic marijuana was found nearby.
Chase’s parents, David and Yvette Burnett, recently brought civil action against 25-year-old Peyton Palaio of Cobb County. They claim Palaio, or someone working for one of his companies, Lunar Labs and WG Distribution, produced and sold the Mojo Diamond that Chase purchased from a Peachtree City convenience store.
Synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2 or Spice, is plant matter that has been sprayed with chemicals that have similar affects as THC, the main compound found in marijuana. In April, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal banned the synthetic marijuana as part of Chase’s Law, a measure brought about in part by Chase Burnett’s death. However, drug manufacturers simply altered the chemical compounds they were using to create the drug, and got around the law.
After that, the drug was classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, due to an emergency ruling by the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy. The Georgia Controlled Substances Act allows police to seize the synthetic marijuana from distributors, but does not allow for arrests or criminal persecution. So the only option left for the Burnett’s is to take civil action against the man they claim produced the synthetic marijuana.
It will be interesting to see how this case turns out, and it will surely set a precedent for future cases of a similar nature. Some of the questions that will have to be answered are whether or not the manufacturer and distributor of the Mojo Diamond knew or should have known about its potential dangers, and if this person can be held responsible for Chase Burnett’s death.