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Medical Marijuana and Life Insurance

Published 01/24/2011

Medical Marijuana and Life InsuranceIn most of the country, marijuana use is illegal under any circumstances, but in fifteen states, including Washington, D.C. medical marijuana is allowed as long as you meet specific criteria. The medical use of marijuana has generated many questions in the insurance industry. For example, if you receive medical benefits from the Veterans Administration, it's almost impossible to even get a recommendation for medical marijuana, because it's still illegal under federal law.

But what about life insurance? Does the use of medical marijuana make you ineligible for life insurance? The answer is "no." If whatever illness you have doesn't make you "uncoverable," marijuana use won't disqualify you either, whether it's for medical use, or not.

Still, there are a few things you should know. Here are common questions about medical marijuana and life insurance, and the answers that apply to most insurers.

Will I have to pay smokers' rates for life insurance?

No. Marijuana use, whether it shows up in your blood test or not, does not classify you as a smoker. For life insurance purposes, smoking refers to only nicotine-based cigars and cigarettes.

However, you still have to answer "yes," to the question of whether or not you've used illegal drugs in the last five years. While your medical marijuana may be legal where you live, technically, it's still an illegal drug. If you answer "no" and it comes up in your blood test, that constitutes lying, and you can be disqualified.

On the other hand a "yes" answer may mean you don't get the very best rates (whether or not your tests come back positive), but it won't knock you down into the smokers' bracket, either.

Will my medical marijuana use be reported to any federal officials, or law enforcement agencies?

By law, your medical records are protected, so even if your blood test tests positive for marijuana use, no one in law enforcement or the government will ever be told.

As part of your insurance application, you'll be giving consent for your data to be sent to the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). The MIB is a non-government agency which provides services to life and health insurance companies nationwide, but don't worry. The information submitted to the MIB is not accessible to the government.
Is there any way I can make my medical marijuana use a non-issue?

Technically, there is "no-exam" life insurance. It's more expensive, and you still have to answer a medical questionnaire, but there are no blood tests. However, these policies have clauses requiring that you answer the questionnaire truthfully. If you decline to tell them you use medical marijuana, and your insurer later finds out that you do, your policy will probably be cancelled, and it may be difficult for you to get a more "conventional" life insurance policy later.

It's important to remember that every insurer has its own guidelines. For the best rates on life insurance, we recommend that you speak honestly with your insurance agent about your use of medical marijuana. This is one time when speaking to a live person before you make an insurance decision is essential.

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