Whether you personally like it or not, legal cannabis is going to be a fact in Canada. There will be a great many things that will be impacted by this, here is an insurance perspective on legalizing marijuana.
We are all aware of the impact of impaired driving, but up to now it has just been alcohol for the most part. Though there have been some issues with people driving under the influence of drugs, there has not been an issue with a widely used drug that will be legal.
How will the police enforce this, and how will they be able to determine if a person is over the legal limit. For that matter what will the legal limit be? The answers to these issues have not been divulged but we can be sure that the answers will be debated no matter what they are.
No matter what the result is, there is sure to be wrinkles thrown into getting your auto insurance, even if it just a couple more questions.
Now this is a confusing sector when you consider that in 2016, federal rules were adjusted to allow people that use medical marijuana to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home. This now brings up questions for you if you are the primary resident and growing pot, or more so if you are renting out a home and your tenants are involved in growing their own supply.
Regardless of the ownership situation, grow-ops are viewed as high risk activities in the opinion of many insurance companies. Andrew McGrath, spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada explains:
“While regulations may allow for the legal growing of marijuana for medical purposes, it does not change the structural risk grow-ops pose to homes and condos,” says McGrath.
“The operation of a grow-op, whether legal or not, is still a high-risk activity.”
How the insurance industry adapts to this is yet to be seen, but it seems unlikely that there will be a large move from the current position.
As many if not most of us do get our health coverage from either an employer, the public system or a combination of both, a question that comes to mind is will medical marijuana be included in my medical coverage. There will be companies that will offer it as part of coverage for their employees, Loblaw Companies Limited and Shoppers Drug Mart have already announced that they will include medical marijuana in their employee benefit plan.
Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association had this to say, “What we see in the legislative framework for recreational marijuana is that the federal government really wants to continue with the medical cannabis route as a distinct route vs recreational marijuana, so at this point we don’t’ see any impact,”
“But I’ll say that we’re watching it closely, especially regarding the decisionmaking framework, taxation, and how it’s going to be distributed,” Weir adds. “Once we know answers to those questions across the provinces and territories, it might have an impact on driving more people into the medical marijuana stream, or vice versa. That’s what we’re looking at over the next 12 months as the provinces come out with their own legislation.”
Weir went on to explain that the federal government has made it clear that recreational and medical would be separate for an initial five-year period, after which the government will decide if it’s necessary to continue the distinction.
“We expect for the status quo for about five years.”
As with Auto and Home insurance the full impact will not be known for some time yet.