It was a record breaking attendance at the AIRROC Spring Membership Meeting on March 5 & 6. Hosted at the offices of Norton Rose Fulbright in New York City, members held meetings and also heard from great education panels. Read on for highlights for this particular session.
Tyler Scott and Scott Davis, Partners at Husch Blackwell, along with Lisa Simon, Vice President at Swiss Re, gave a lively presentation about the emerging risks generated by the legalization of marijuana. Tyler kicked off the panel by educating the audience on the differences between marijuana, cannabis, and hemp. He noted that, while states are increasingly legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, it is still illegal on a federal level, though there is increasing momentum for marijuana reform in Congress. Some of the impacts of state legalization include increased revenue, a decrease in marijuana arrests, and the creation of thousands of jobs.
Lisa then addressed the different types of marijuana-related claims that insurers might see. There have already been several product liability claims, alleging failure to warn of the potential for serious side effects or strict liability for injuries caused by contaminated marijuana. Physicians and pharmacists are at risk for claims stemming from their roles in recommending or dispensing marijuana for medical purposes, while attorneys and accountants can face disciplinary actions or civil and criminal penalties for providing services to marijuana-related businesses. Lisa also spoke about whether testing positive for marijuana bars a workers’ compensation claim; whether workers’ compensation carriers are required to pay for medical marijuana; and whether employers have to accommodate medical marijuana users.
Scott then talked about the thousands of businesses that need coverage, both those that touch the plant and those that provide ancillary services. Despite the tremendous marketplace, insurers have been reluctant to wade in, due to the federal illegality, the complex regulatory environment, the lack of information available to underwriters, and the concerns about long-term health risks. However, several insurers have started to write this business, due in part to prompting from insurance regulators. Scott discussed the gaps in coverage under current policies, and the need for policies tailored to this industry. He talked about the coverage decisions that have been issued and how Oregon regulators are requiring specificity with respect to excluding marijuana-related losses.
Lisa ended the panel by talking about how CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, is increasingly being added to products because it is alleged to have health benefits. However, its legality is still unclear, and much of the evidence of benefits is anecdotal. Finally, she talked about the future of marijuana – how AI and technology are leading to customized marijuana and more efficient growing, and how researchers are creating marijuana compounds in labs.
Refer to page 29 in Spring 2019 issue for article. https://www.airroc.org/assets/docs/matters/AIRROC-MATTERS-Spring-2019-Vol-15-No-1.pdf