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Legalized Marijuana – Regulatory, Legislative, and Related News

Insurance implications of legal marijuana: Questions continue to roll in

Auto Insurance 

*IIHS Study Links Marijuana Legalization with Increased Claim Frequency
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published a study looking at the effect of legalization of recreational marijuana on auto collision claim frequency. Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about 3 percent higher overall than would have been expected without legalization, according to an analysis by IIHS-affiliate Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). The size of the effect varies by state, but the data show a consistent and statistically significant increase in crash risk. HLDI conducted a combined analysis using neighboring states, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience. 

Status Report, Vol. 52, No. 4 | June 22, 2017 - Legalizing recreational marijuana is linked to increased crashes -

*Though some studies have found that marijuana use could as much as double crash risk, other studies, including a large-scale federal case-control study, have failed to find a link between marijuana use and crashes. See A.M. Best article, HLDI Study: Auto Accident Claims Jump in States Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health used the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System to determine the annual numbers of motor vehicle crash fatalities between 2009 and 2015 in Washington, Colorado, and 8 control states. The study cites no significant rise in vehicle-related deaths in Colorado and Washington compared with the control states in which recreational marijuana use remains illegal. 

Other Related Studies:
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety - Prevalence of marijuana involvement in fatal crashes: Washington, 2010-2014

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - Marijuana, other drugs, and alcohol use by drivers in Washington state

American Journal of Public Health, Dec. 20, 2016 - U.S. traffic fatalities, 1985-2014, and their relationship to medical marijuana laws

*The National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program (NCREP) convened a group of national experts, representing states that have liberalized marijuana laws, to discuss the consequences of those laws and identify issues for consideration by other states that may be considering the adoption of these laws. The NCREP is managed jointly by Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Key takeaways from the meeting include the following recommendations for states:

  • Craft new laws with provisions that are supportable by science
  • Provide appropriate training and education for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, probation and toxicology laboratory staff
  • Conduct public outreach and education as early as possible
  • Consider collaborating with the marijuana industry and criminal justice system

A copy of the NCREP 2017 report can be accessed via . GHSA also maintains a list of marijuana-specific drug-impaired driving laws that can be found at

Health & Workers Compensation

*A 2017 report, The Health Effects on Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of the Evidence and Recommendations for Research was prepared by the Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda of the Health and Medicine Division (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report finds conclusive or substantial evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain. However, there also is substantial statistical association between marijuana use and an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. The report further concludes that there is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical association between general, non-medical marijuana use and occupational accidents or injuries

*PCI Analysis: Impact of Marijuana on Workplace Accidents
Usage of marijuana is increasing across the country. PCI believes that marijuana use is impacting workplace safety. However, empirical data on workplace accidents involving marijuana is not directly being captured by employers and insurers. A standardized and medically accepted measurement of marijuana impairment is critically needed to determine the impact on workplace accidents.

Legal Issues: Federal vs State

* U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requests report back from Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety by no later than July 27, 2017. "Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities," stated Sessions in his April 5, 2017, memo

*DEA Announces Actions Related to Marijuana and Industrial Hemp - August 11, 2016

In his August 11, 2016 letter to the petitioners, DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg outlines the factual and legal basis for the denial of the petitions to reconsider how it treats marijuana under federal drug control laws. "Using established scientific standards that are consistent with that same FDA drug approval process and based on the FDA's scientific and medical evaluation, as well as the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana will remain a schedule I controlled substance."

The full responses to the petitions can be found in the Federal Register. Response 1 AND Response 2 

*U.S. Department of Justice Memorandum on Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement:
Cole Memo, February 14, 2014
Cole Memo, August 29, 2013
"The provisions of the money laundering statutes, the unlicensed money remitter statute, and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) remain in effect with respect to marijuana-related conduct. ... Additionally, financial institutions that conduct transactions with money generated by marijuana-related conduct could face criminal liability under the BSA for, among other things, failing to identify or report financial transactions that involved the proceeds of marijuana-related violations of the CSA. See, e.g., 31 U.S.C. § 5318(g)." 

*Fourth Corner Credit Union v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City: United States District Court, D. Colorado, January 5, 2016 - Federal district court rejects Colorado credit union's bid to force the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City to grant it a master account despite its mission to serve the state's legal marijuana businesses, noting that the current conflict between state and federal marijuana laws is "untenable." United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, June 27, 2017  - Federal circuit court finds the district court's ruling erroneous and concludes that the appeal is fit for a judicial decision, and such a dismissal would "hurl a significant, unwarranted hardship" on Fourth Corner.

*Connecticut WC Commission decision that orders reimbursement for medical marijuana, Petrini vs Marcus Dairy and Gallagher Bassett (May 2016). 

*New Mexico Court Upholds Workers Compensation Coverage for Medical Marijuana (2014) Court of Appeals upholds Workers Compensation Judge's order to require the employer to reimburse for medical marijuana as a reasonable and necessary medical service covered by the Workers Compensation Act.

Insurance Industry News

*Hawaii comp insurer cancels policies for medical marijuana dispensaries
*Lloyd's Stops Insuring Marijuana Firms Due to U.S. Law Conflicts
* 5 developments impacting medical marijuana in workers’ compensation

State Regulatory/Legislative Issues

*California has begun the regulatory process in response to the November, 2016 passage of Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which decriminalizes the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis for nonmedical purposes. The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation is taking the lead with significant input from the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health. A description of the pertinent laws is available here:

*Two sets of department regulations in this area were released in April, 2017: 

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Regulations:

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been designated the agency responsible for licensing cultivation. It will also establish conditions under which indoor and outdoor cultivation may occur, establish an electronic database to track cannabis from seed to sale, and assist other state agencies in protecting the environment and public health and safety.

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Regulations:

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been deemed the agency responsible for licensing manufacturers.

*Governor Brown proposed legislation to reconcile differences between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana state licensing requirements in CA.
News Article - Jerry Brown wades into pot battle with plan to merge medical, recreational laws
Trailer bill to Brown's 2017-18 budget, 200 Cannabis Regulation

California SB-94, Cannabis: medicinal and adult use, approved by Governor on June 27, 2017

California Insurance Commissioner Approves First Commercial Insurer to Write Cannabis Business Insurance

Oregon DFR Issues Bulletin Clarifying Coverage for Marijuana