Earlier this week (March 18, 2021), U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (R-KY), Bob Menendez (D – NJ) and Rand Paul (R – KY) introduced a law, the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana Act of 2021 (the “CLAIM Act“) to enable access to insurance coverage for cannabis businesses.
Named the “Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana Act of 2021“, the bill is intended to ease federal restrictions around insuring businesses related to cannabis growth, processing and dispensing.
Per NJ BIZ, 44 states have enacted some type of legal cannabis – whether medical, recreational or both. This past election season saw voters in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, Mississippi and South Dakota approve legal adult use cannabis; and last month, New Jersey enacted legislation to officially legalize and regulate adult use cannabis.
The goal of the CLAIM Act according to Senator Paul is to stop legitimate businesses from being shut out from obtaining basic business protections.
Insurance Products – Under the proposed CLAIM Act, cannabis businesses would be permitted full and legal access to insurance products such as worker's compensation, property, casualty and title insurance. Currently, state-authorized cannabis businesses are often denied access to the insurance market because the businesses could be prosecuted or face penalties under the Controlled Substances Act (a federal law).
Policy Limitations – Under the proposed CLAIM Act, insurers couldn't be penalized or discouraged from providing coverage to a state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business or ancillary business; and policies could not be limited solely because the insurer engaged with a cannabis-related business.
Supervisory Actions – Under the proposed CLAIM Act, according to NJ Biz, the federal government wouldn't be able to take any adverse or corrective supervisory action on a policy to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business or real estate or equipment that is leased to a cannabis-related business, solely because the owner or operator is engaged with cannabis or cannabis-related business.
The CLAIM Act represents a big step for cannabis related and ancillary businesses and would enable them to more easily access insurance related products that up until this point have been denied to them.
Duane Morris has an over 62 person Cannabis Practice Group that focuses on regulatory licensing, funds creation and raising, structuring, real estate related lease and ownership issues and intellectual property matters in the Cannabis arena.
Be well and stay safe.
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.