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Pot-testing kits at the center of St. Pete company lawsuit

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A St. Pete company is suing four former employees and two companies for ripping off its marijuana test kit idea.

The company, called FutureWorld, is based in St. Pete. They focus on “the identification, acquisition, development, and commercialization of cannabis-related products, such as industrial Hemp.”

The company’s goal is to capitalize on the “burgeoning Cannabis markets globally.”

FutureWorld purchased the company MedTest in 2014 in order to adopt a product they were planning to introduce as its own. That product, a marijuana test kit that can detect whether food is laced with pot, would then be marketed through FutureWorld’s subsidiary company, Denver, Colo.-based CB Scientific.

According to the lawsuit, FutureWorld spent about $260,000 on product development and consultants. The consultants include two of the defendants in the lawsuit – Charlies Steinberg and Derek Labahn.

FutureWorld claims the two colluded with CB Scientific’s then CEO Bill Short, also named in the lawsuit, to slow the product testing process to kill a distribution deal. When the deal with a third-party fell through, the defendants then allegedly sold a knock-off version of the test kits to that party instead.

The company’s product made headlines in Denver last October just before Halloween. As Colorado ushered in legal pot, many parents grew wary their kids may be inadvertently handed out pot-laced goodies that looked very similar to the real thing.

A CBS Denver report showed side-by-side comparisons of original candies and their edible marijuana counterparts. There were gummy bears, gummy worms, “Pot Tarts,” “hashees” that look just like a Reece’s peanut butter cup. and “Ganja Joy” packaged to look just like Almond Joy.

The packaging on the edibles, at first glance, could easily be confused for the non-pot counterpart. Unwrapped, those marijuana-infused treats look no different from the real thing.

The CB Scientific kit worked similarly to a pool chemical test where you put a sample of the food in question in a tube with a few drops of a chemical. If the solution turns pink, the food’s got pot.

It’s unclear what the defendants that copied the CB Scientific/FutureWorld product named their alleged knock-off. It’s also unclear how much FutureWorld is seeking in damages.

The company’s website still lists the marijuana test kits on its website along with data analytics, lab testing and banking and consultation services for the industrial hemp and legal medical marijuana sectors.

They make it clear that they do not grow, distribute or sell marijuana.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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