Cannabis sweeties. Photo: D.C.Atty

Cannabis sweeties. Photo: D.C.Atty

A man in Denver, Colorado, claimed that he murdered his wife because he had consumed cannabis-infused sweets ? specifically, Karma Kandy Orange Ginger. This transparently BS excuse didn’t wash, and he was sentenced to 30 years of gaol on Friday April 7 2017.

How it unfolded

50-year-old Richard Kirk murdered his wife, Kristine, by shooting her in the head in April 2014. She had dialled 911, telling the call handler that he was hallucinating and going for a gun after eating pot sweeties. The call lasted 13 minutes. Kirk apparently also ranted about the end of the world and asked Kristine to kill him. He shot her while she was on the phone, with their seven-year-old son watching.

Kirk pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity due to cannabis intoxication shortly before going on trial in 2015. The trial was delayed to allow his mental health to be evaluated to determine whether he was mentally competent. In February 2017, he made a plea bargain, pleading guilty to second-degree moider to avoid the even longer gaol sentence that would have resulted from the more serious charge.

Kirk took cannabis for pack pain which had caused him to become an opioid addict, insisting that the cannabis had clouded his judgement. His ?involuntary intoxication? was so bad because schizophrenia was present in his extended family, making him more prone to marijuana psychosis. The judge, Martin Egelhoff, didn’t address this when he delivered the sentence. Although a partially-eaten cannabis sweet was found, the level of THC in Kirk’s blood was low.


The couple had faced increasing marital problems, including financial woes. They fought so much that Kristine told a friend she feared her husband, which the defence disputed. During her 911 call, Kristine described her husband’s actions as drunk rather than violent: he crawled through a bedroom window and cut his legs on the broken glass. She commented that he had never behaved like this previously in the course of 15 years of marriage. He was, however, sufficiently with it to remember the code to his gun safe.

A plea bargain was reached to avoid the emotional toll of a trial on the couple’s three children. As part of it, Kristine’s parents, Wayne and Marti Kohnke, adopted them. Marti described her daughter’s murder as ?the culmination of a lifetime of his bad choices.? The Kohnkes sued two businesses that sold cannabis sweets to Kirk because they had neglected to warn him of their potency and possible side effects.

While Kirk murdered his wife, there was also the instance of a Wyoming college student who leapt from a hotel balcony after eating a pot cookie. These led the state to tighten regulation on the cannabis snacks that became popular after cannabis for recreational use was legalised. There are now limits on how much cannabis snacks can contain and labelling is more explicit.

Kirk continued to blame cannabis for the fact that he murdered his wife: “I had no idea how it would affect me…. I’m so sorry that I became the monster that I was supposed to protect them from.? He called Kristine ?the love of my life? and remarked, ?I will always love her.?

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