What State Plans To Legalize Marijuana Mean For The Insurance Industry

Over the last few weeks, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, unveiled his plans to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2019 during his State of the State address. New York, which currently allows limited medical marijuana use, would join ten other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana, along with many more that plan to follow suit in 2019 and 2020.

These plans reflect growing nationwide support for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, but federal policy still largely contradicts public sentiment and state law. Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, indicating ostensibly high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, and is illegal to use, possess, or sell. However, we predict that this wave of support for cannabis use will likely lead to a huge tide change: federal legalization of medicinal marijuana.

If medicinal cannabis is legalized on a federal level in the coming years, dramatic changes will begin to impact the cannabis and insurance industries. Federal legalization would mean reclassification of the drug and would open the door to more widespread testing and regulation of cannabis, reducing risk for users and carriers alike. This would also significantly open up the national insurance marketplace, as large insurance carriers will be pressured to dip their toes into the marketplace to meet demand. We anticipate that underwriters specializing in the Life Science industry will take the lead, as their expertise is a natural fit with the medicinal marijuana marketplace.

In the coming year, ABD experts will keep you up to date on industry-specific laws and regulations, and specifically those which affect businesses of your company’s size. Together, we will put together an aggressive and informed insurance strategy reflecting your business operations, your risk philosophy and your contractual obligations with suppliers, customers and partners.

For more information on ABD’s work with leaders in the cannabis industry, check out our latest one-pager or contact Mike Hennessey at mike.hennessey@theabdteam.com.

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