Brennan Linsley / AP

Hershey's sues Colorado pot candy company

Chocolate giant slaps marijuana edibles upstart with lawsuit, saying sweets' wrappings violate trademark

The Hershey Co. is suing a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the Pennsylvania-based chocolate maker.

Hershey's says some TinctureBelle LLC products are packaged in a way that will confuse consumers, including children. The suit says TinctureBelle "creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers" who might inadvertently eat them thinking they are ordinary chocolate candy.

The lawsuit was filed this week as Colorado lawmakers look to tighten safety regulations for largely unmonitored marijuana snacks that can be difficult to distinguish from ordinary candies and baked goods.

The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC.

It alleges TinctureBelle's Ganja Joy, Hasheath and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey's Almond Joy, Heath and York peppermint patty candies, respectively.

TinctureBelle did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The Denver Business Journal first reported about the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The company's website says its products, which also include lotions and balms, are "diabetic safe and delicious" and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia.

TinctureBelle's items and other edible marijuana products are sold in Colorado's legal pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries.

Parents and doctors have said some children are eating highly potent, marijuana-laced gummy bears, cookies, brownies and other items by mistake, sending them to hospitals in increasing numbers.

Hershey wants a judge to order TinctureBelle to stop selling some of the items. It is also seeking 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.

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 products were stoked by the death in March of a college student who authorities said ate more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and then 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 Colorado’s new marijuana legalization law and some experts say that alcohol causes far more problems among users, and that issues with pot can be largely addressed through better regulations.

Voters in Colorado approved a landmark ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in 2012.

Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper tightened controls on edible and concentrated forms of marijuana. Among the steps taken was the creation of a task force to design packaging to make marijuana-laced cookies and candy easily distinguishable from ordinary products.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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