NAMIC has begun to explore the widespread ramifications of the explosive and “legal” growth of the cannabis industry over the past decades. While the legalization of marijuana can be a politically divisive subject, there is value in property/casualty insurers developing an understanding of how the issues at play will affect their companies. Given recent trends, it is increasingly impractical for insurers to ignore the rapidly transforming cannabis landscape.
As of March 2019, marijuana is legal for medical use in more than 33 states and D.C., decriminalized in at least 23 states and D.C., and available for recreational use in ten states and D.C. The state legal landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years, and public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has transformed significantly with no sign of relenting anytime soon. However, the fact remains that cannabis continues to be a Schedule I Drug on the federal Controlled Substances Act list. Therefore, it is illegal to assist in its dissemination in interstate commerce, with other federal laws such as RICO allowing for civil penalties as well as criminal charges for assisting in distribution of a controlled substance.
Issues of conflicting law have already arisen in the states that deal with such rudimentary concepts of having an insurable interest and whether you can contractually insure for an “illegal” substance as federally defined. Homeowners, automobile, business, crop, commercial, inland marine, worker’s compensation, product liability, professional liability including Errors and Omissions and Directors and Officers as well as intellectual property coverage and policies all have the potential to face such issues. Whether the issue is owning, selling, prescribing, medicating, growing, transporting, storing, advising, assisting, using, reimbursing or any other concept that can be conceived, insurance and especially the property and casualty lines will be in the mix. Exposure to interactions with the “legal cannabis” industry should be discerned, the risks explored, and risk tolerance assessed. Protection from unwarranted intrusion into underwritten policies, retrospectively and prospectively, is one parameter that is at stake and should be closely evaluated.
No state should ever create a circumstance, regardless of its own marijuana legalization laws, in which an insurer would be compelled by state law to violate federal law by being forced to provide insurance coverage for an illegal substance or business. However, if insurers are compelled to participate in any way with the cannabis industry, there should be a robust safe harbor from any federal legal liability under controlled substances-related law.
November 4, 2019 The United States Department of Agriculture issued an Interim Final Rule Oct. 31 in response to Congress legalizing hemp in the 2018 farm bill. The rule, effective Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2021, has two primary objectives... Read more
October 14, 2019 A new marijuana impairment testing device, Impairment Measurement Marijuana and Driving, is the first of its kind to determine if a driver is intoxicated by marijuana by testing for impaired vision. The device uses virtual reality technology to... Read more
September 30, 2019 The House of Representatives voted Sept. 25 to pass H.R.1595, the Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking, or SAFE Banking Act, with insurance protection language included, by a 321–103 margin. The language added to the resolution is based on... Read more
September 20, 2019 Despite calls from advocacy groups to delay a vote on H.R.1595, the Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act, until it addresses more “holistic” concerns relating to marijuana, it now appears that the bill might be headed to... Read more
September 16, 2019 The House of Representatives leadership has been considering moving the Secure And Fair Enforcement, or SAFE Banking Act, H.R.1595, forward under a suspension of the rules, a process meant to streamline passage of legislation seen as... Read more
August 5, 2019 NAMIC participated in a July 31 webinar hosted by the law firm Holland & Knight that focused on the federal regulatory landscape of hemp and cannabis. The presentation drew largely from the Senate Agriculture Committee’s July 25 hearing on hemp... Read more
July 29, 2019 The Senate Committee on Agriculture held a hearing July 25 titled “Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill” featuring several witnesses from key government agencies as well as hemp industry experts... Read more
July 29, 2019 The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing July 23 titled “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives” during which lawmakers received testimony from Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and... Read more
July 29, 2019 Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced S.2201, the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana, or CLAIM Act, July 22 alongside co-sponsors Rand Paul, R-Ky., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. The CLAIM Act would create a safe... Read more
June 24, 2019 The House Committee on Small Business convened a hearing June 19 titled “Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the... Read more
April 22, 2019 NAMIC staff participated in an informational panel hosted by international law firm Holland & Knight April 17 to provide congressional staff with an overview of financial services’ perspectives on cannabis and its complicated legal situation. Read more
February 19, 2019 The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Financial Institutions held a hearing Feb. 13 on the cannabis industry’s access to the banking industry. Appearing before the subcommittee at the hearing, titled “Challenges and... Read more
February 11, 2019 The House Financial Services Subcommittee will hold a hearing Feb. 13 titled “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses... Read more
November 28, 2018 NAMIC's recently released public policy paper, "Cannabis: From Criminality to Commercial Enterprise: Understanding the Intersection with Property/Casualty Insurance," was noted with appreciation in the first in-person meeting of the NAIC's Cannabis... Read more
November 13, 2018 Michigan and North Dakota voted Nov. 6 on legalizing adult-use, recreational cannabis while Utah and Missouri voted on measures to legalize medical marijuana. The Michigan, Utah, and Missouri initiatives passed while North Dakotans rejected their... Read more