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Did Legal Marijuana Drive Man to Kill His Wife?

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A Colorado man accused of killing his wife was suffering from psychotic symptoms allegedly brought about by the cannabis-infused candy he bought at a legal pot shop, according to a doctor in his legal filings.

Richard Kirk, 49, has been charged with 1st degree murder for the April 2014 shooting of his wife, Kristine, who died on the phone with 911 while describing his erratic behavior. Lawyers for Kirk say that he was so impaired by the candy that he may not have intended to kill her.

Kirk changed his plea Friday to not guilty by reason of insanity. According to Dr. Andrew Monte, Kirk was intoxicated with THC, cannabis’s psychoactive ingredient, throwing him into a psychotic delirium.

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Just before she was shot, Kristine Kirk told the dispatchers that her husband was acting drunk, breaking and crawling through a basement window and cut his legs. Prosecutors argue he was able to remember the code to the safe that stored the gun he used to shoot Kristine. The Kirks had been fighting over financial issues affecting their marriage.

The incident provoked controversy regarding the effects of cannabis snacks, which have become immensely popular in legal Colorado. Along with another death of a college student after eating a pot cookie, Colorado lawmakers as a result have tightened regulations on edibles.

© AP Photo / Brennan Linsley, FileIn this May 8, 2014 file photo, a customer pays cash for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver.
In this May 8, 2014 file photo, a customer pays cash for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver. - Sputnik International
In this May 8, 2014 file photo, a customer pays cash for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver.

Insanity defenses in Colorado cannot come from the result of willful intoxication. Kirk would have to prove he suffered mental illness independent of his intoxication that made him unable to tell right and wrong. A different doctor agreed; clinical psychologist Katherine Bellon noted “[Kirk] is prone to unraveling both cognitively and emotionally when under stress, and symptoms are likely to include paranoid inclinations, significant distortions in thinking and unrestrained affect.

Kirk will be evaluated at the Colorado Mental Health Institute to judge his sanity before his next hearing in December.

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