Synthetic marijuana, commonly called K2 or spice, wasn’t responsible for the suicide of a Royal Oak man who committed suicide after smoking the substance, an Oakland County Circuit Court jury said Tuesday after four hours of deliberations.
The family of John Anthony Sdao, 20, had sued Sara Corp., the owners of the Mobile gas station at 12 Mile and Campbell where Sdao bought the substance, and the distributors of the product, Yassmine Wholesalers.
The verdict, which came after a nearly two-trial, was not a surprise, Lee Ann Rutila, Yassmine Wholesaler’s attorney, told The Oakland Press. Sado killed himself at his home on April 11, 2012, by wrapping a belt around his neck.
When his body was discovered, a K2 pipe was found next to his body, lawyers representing Sdao’s family said in a lawsuit, but Rutila said that didn’t prove the case.
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“They were basically unable to say that the suicide really wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” Rutila said. “It could have happened with or without the K2. They couldn’t put that as being the contributing factor.”
Dean Kallas, the attorney for the gas station, said it never appeared to the defense that the suicide and the purchase of K2 were related, and the plaintiffs didn’t conclusively prove the K2 came from the Mobile station.
James Rasor, who represented the Sdao family, said his clients will appeal.
“For too many years, now, retailers and distributors of so-called synthetic marijuana have tried to dodge the law and their moral responsibilities while continuing to sell these dangerous products to the public, but especially to impressionable teens and young adults,” he said.
K2, which goes by a variety of names, was legal when Sado purchased it in April 2012, but the Royal Oak City Commission passed an emergency ordinance banning the sale of the synthetic marijuana substances in June 2012.
Commissioners cited high-profile crimes involving youths because the drug was so easily obtained.
At the time, Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said products such as K2 and Spice are marketed to appeal to teens."They use very colorful packaging," O'Donohue said. "There’s no doubt that it is something that young people gravitate to as something they believe is a legal alternative to marijuana."