Cannabis in the Insurance Industry

Because the federal government classifies marijuana under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, its cultivation, possession, use, and distribution is illegal under federal law. Not all the states agree with the federal government.

11 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, 35 states have legalized medical marijuana programs, and many of the remaining states are considering doing one or both.

One of the biggest problems faced by those working in the cannabis industry–and insurance companies and agents working with those businesses–relates to money. Because cannabis businesses are considered illegal operations by the federal government, federally regulated banks won’t do business with them. A number of federal laws–including RICO and money laundering statutes–impose reporting restrictions and penalties on banks who don’t comply. Because these banks are concerned about repercussions by the federal government, they won’t open accounts for anyone in the cannabis industry.

Some local and county banks have been working with cannabis business in states that have legalized marijuana but the majority of these business deal strictly in cash, and face many challenges because they have a great deal of cash on hand. When a cannabis business can obtain insurance, the carrier will require specific and strict conditions to be met in connection with security … because of the crime exposure. Criminals targeting cannabis businesses are far more interested in finding cash than they are pot plants.

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