Citrus Heights, CA asked in Consumer Law and Business Law for California

Q: I sell herbs online for ritual and ceremonial purposes. Can I be held liable if someone consumes or misuses product?

Some herbs are toxic and labeled not for human consumption, however, I’ve discovered that clients are actually consuming them. I’ve labeled them as deadly toxic. The herbs in question are belladonna and sacred datura.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Leon Bayer
Leon Bayer
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You are really asking for trouble. You already know that people are misusing the poisons that you are selling. You even admit it!

It is highly likely that anyone injured from your product will sue you, even if they did not follow or read the warnings on your package. Suppose a child who does not yet read consumes your substances? What if an illiterate adult consumes them? What about a person who does not read and comprehend English?

Suppose a customer removes some of the material from the original packaging and later that person or someone else who has never seen the original packaging ingests your product? We could go on and on yet never think of all the ways that your poison package might be misused and kill someone.

This should shock you: You can even be sued if someone died from using these substances even though they bought it from someone else! They don't even have to prove they bought it from you, and can sue all distributors of the substance. This is what happened with asbestos lawsuits, and other products!

Do you have product liability insurance? I bet you don't. I doubt that an insurer would even write you a policy because of the inherent risks. Your own confidence in the benefits of ritualistic and ceremonial use do not shield you from the responsibility for irresponsible use. In my opinion you might even face possible criminal prosecution.

I frankly do not understand why you would put people at risk with such poisonous substances, just to turn a buck. It might make you feel better to call this stuff "herbs." But the reality is that these are deadly poison.

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