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Here’s How Using Medical Cannabis Could Impact Your Insurance

When it comes to cannabis, the lines can get a bit blurry. In this article, we cover some of the most important questions medical cannabis users have about their health, auto, and life insurance.
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When it comes to cannabis, the lines can get a bit blurry. Below, we cover some of the most important questions medical marijuana users have about their health, auto, and life insurance.

Recreational vs. Medicinal

Even though recreational and medicinal marijuana is derived from the same plant, there are a few differences between the two in terms of legality, product options, and the buying experience—a user’s reason for consumption being the most notable.

In Canada, cannabis is completely legal but In the United States on a federal level, all cannabis is illegal. However, some states permit cannabis use for medical and recreational use.

People who use cannabis for medicinal reasons depend on the plant’s therapeutic properties to help aid an ailment, whereas recreational users smoke or ingest cannabis for their enjoyment.

In the United States, those who purchase medicinal marijuana are required to have a state-issued medical marijuana card through the Medicinal Marijuana Program. This card allows registered users to buy medical cannabis at any licensed dispensary in their area, per their doctor’s recommendations.

As of September 2021, 18 states have legalized the use of recreational cannabis. Any adult who is age 21 or older can purchase recreational cannabis in these states. States that have legalized recreational cannabis allow users to visit dispensaries and purchase limited amounts of cannabis.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on medical cannabis.

How does using cannabis affect your auto, life, and health insurance coverage?

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common questions and their answers regarding medical marijuana use and insurance.

Does health insurance cover medical cannabis?

In Canada there are several insurance companies that have medical cannabis coverage through prescription drug plans or health and wellness spending accounts.

In the U.S., health insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana. This includes employer health insurance, individual and private plans, and family plans. Some health insurance plans cover other FDA-approved drugs containing synthetic cannabis, including Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone).

One of the main reasons health insurance doesn’t cover medicinal cannabis in the U.S., is because federal law still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug. Other examples of Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and peyote.

Does using medical cannabis affect health insurance?

Using medical cannabis shouldn’t affect your health insurance. According to HealthCare.gov, health insurance companies use five factors to determine a person’s rate: age, location, tobacco use, and individual vs. family enrolment.

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Does using medical cannabis affect auto insurance?

Using medical cannabis shouldn’t affect your auto insurance. However, if you have a DUI or similar offense on your record, you may be charged a higher premium. In North Carolina, for example, those with a DUI can expect their rate to triple.

Is it illegal to drive while under the influence of medical cannabis?

Yes, it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. In the U.S., The penalty varies from state to state. In Washington State, a first-offense marijuana DUI could get you:

  • Anywhere between one and 364 days in jail
  • Up to $5,000 in fines (plus court fees and expenses)
  • License suspension
  • A mandatory alcohol and drug abuse course

Understanding the drugged driving laws in your state could help you avoid a DUI charge.

Does using medical cannabis affect life insurance rates?

Using medical cannabis could affect your life insurance rate, depending on your age, gender, and amount of coverage requested. If you’re using medical cannabis to treat or ease a severe medical condition (such as symptom relief related to chemotherapy), it may be difficult to secure a fairly-priced policy.

In addition to asking about pre-existing health conditions, a life insurance provider may also ask how frequently you consume cannabis. If you smoke cannabis regularly, you may fall into the “smoker” classification, which typically has higher rates

However, if you have an existing policy and you decide to give cannabis a try, you’re good to go. According to MarketWatch, once your rates are set, the insurer can’t come back and change them.

Do life insurance companies test for cannabis?

When you apply for life insurance, the company will most likely ask you to take a medical exam. During this exam, you’ll be asked to perform a drug test.

Most insurers test for the following drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine
  • Barbituates
  • Methadone
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamine / methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Ultimately, if you’re considering using cannabis—whether recreationally or for medical purposes—it’s essential to understand the laws associated with it in your province or state and to enjoy it safely.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Revive Cannabis for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.