DENVER » The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.
The trademark infringement 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.
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 include lotions and balms, are "diabetic safe and delicious" and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia.
The edibles are sold in Colorado’s legal pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries.
Pennsylvania-based Hershey says TinctureBelle products are packaged in a way that will confuse consumers, including children. Hershey’s suit says TinctureBelle "creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers" who may inadvertently eat them thinking they are ordinary chocolate candy.
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 wants a judge to order TinctureBelle to stop selling 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 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.