A United States Army staff sergeant alleges the maker of raspberry-lemonade-flavored Iaso instant tea has falsely and misleadingly labeled the product as containing no THC when, in fact, “it does.”
The plaintiff alleges in the 27-page proposed class action that her consumption of defendant Total Life Changes, LLC’s Iaso tea is to blame for a failed random drug test that led to the suspension of her employment.
Per the suit, the plaintiff, a computer tech and instructor stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, ultimately decided to buy the tea based on Total Life Changes’ representations regarding the product’s tetrahydrocannabinol levels, and went so far as to contact a company representative to confirm that the tea would not cause her to fail a drug test.
“Defendant’s representations that the Tea does not contain THC are false,” the complaint, filed in Georgia on June 15, says. “Defendant has not issued a recall or otherwise notified consumers of its misrepresentations. As such, consumers will continue to be harmed by Defendant’s misrepresentations without injunctive relief.”
According to the lawsuit, some, but not all, of Total Life Changes’ products contain derivatives of marijuana, such as hemp extract, and thus some contain THC, the primary psychoactive component in cannabis. Total Life Changes, a multi-level marketing outfit, sells directly to consumers through its website and business representatives called “Life Changers,” the case relays.
Mentioned in the lawsuit is an April 2020 warning letter sent by the Federal Trade Commission to Total Life Changes concerning social media posts from “business participants or representatives” who were said to have unlawfully claimed certain products could treat or prevent COVID-19. Roughly a month later, the defendant was sued by the Environmental Research Center, a California non-profit, who alleged the company exposed consumers in the state to lead in violation of Proposition 65, the suit reads.
As the lawsuit tells it, the above-described instances speak to the plaintiff’s allegations that Total Life Changes has not been forthcoming with regard to its promise that certain products, such as its raspberry-lemonade tea, are THC-free. Although the tea is described online as powered by “100mg of organic Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract with 0% laboratory certified THC content,” the plaintiff, whose sister the suit says works as a TLC Life Changer, claims the product does in fact contain THC and in amounts appreciable enough to trigger a failed drug test. From the complaint:
“In April 2020, Plaintiff purchased a bag of the Tea on TLC’s website. The front of the package she received stated that it contained ‘0.0% THC’ as shown above. Plaintiff then made two additional purchases of the Tea in May and June 2020. After drinking the Tea regularly for approximately one month, Plaintiff started to consume the Tea intermittently as needed for digestion—for example, after a large meal.
Plaintiff consumed the Tea approximately four or five times from October to December 2020. One of these times was after the Thanksgiving holiday, which took place on November 26, 2020.
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 30, 2020, the Army randomly drug tested Plaintiff.”
In January 2021, the plaintiff was informed she had failed the drug test due to coming up positive for THC, the lawsuit says, relaying the Army notified the staff sergeant that she faced a potential demotion in rank to separation from the Army by way of an “other than honorable” discharge.
From there, the plaintiff, shocked by the test results, paid to have a serving of the defendant’s tea tested by a professional lab to determine its THC content, the suit says. Per the case, the lab found that the tea was “likely not made from a hemp variety” crop as TLC claimed, but was made instead from “a hybrid crop with equal parts THC and CBD.” Although the plaintiff shared the test results with the Army, she remains under investigation as of the date of the suit’s filing and must contend with other adverse consequences, including reputational, emotional and financial harm, from the failed drug test, according to the complaint:
“While under investigation, Plaintiff has been required to complete a substance abuse program. She has also been prohibited from receiving ‘favorable actions’ including promotions, awards, and benefits such as tuition reimbursement, and has been suspended from performing her work as an instructor while under investigation. Also because of the failed drug test, she is prohibited from possessing a personal firearm or ammunition for one year.
Plaintiff has already suffered concrete injuries as a result of Defendant’s misrepresentations. Prior to testing positive for THC, Plaintiff had been notified of her eligibility for a promotion in rank in 2021 that would have provided a higher base salary; however, she is no longer eligible for this promotion due to the failed drug test. Plaintiff had also been taking advantage of the Army’s tuition reimbursement program to complete a bachelor’s degree that would have aided her career advancement, and she has been prevented from completing the last seven courses needed to finish her degree due to the suspension of her tuition benefits.”
As the suit tells it, the plaintiff’s circumstances, “while troubling, are far from unique” in that at least three other class action cases have been filed in the last year over claims that the Iaso raspberry-lemonade “THC-free” tea does in fact contain THC. The lawsuit charges Total Life Changes has received plenty of notice that the product is falsely labeled with regard to its THC content yet has not issued a recall of the product or otherwise notified the public.
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