Statewide Covers Medical Marijuana…Nationwide

December 14, 2010

If you live in one of the fifteen states where medical marijuana is legal, and are concerned about the cost of being involved in the medical cannabis industry, you can rest a little easier. Last March, an insurance company based in Rancho Cordova, CA launched the first nationally available coverage designed specifically for the medical marijuana industry.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, Mike Aberle, a commercial insurance agent with the firm – Statewide Insurance – and the national director of its new Medical Marijuana Specialty Division said, “Given the growth in the industry, I think it’s only a matter of time” before other states allow medical marijuana. Now that we can offer (services) in all 50 states, we can start the minute they go legal, without delay.”

According to Aberle, the program covers all of the various aspects of the medical cannabis industry, including dispensaries, general liability, workers’ compensation, equipment breakdown/damage, property/product loss (including pot spoilage), auto insurance (for vehicles that transport medical marijuana) and other related operations.

It was California voters who took the first steps into medical marijuana as an industry back in 1996 when they initially approved Proposition 215, which allows physicians to recommend cannabis for the treatment of cancer, chronic pain, AIDS, glaucoma, and other chronic illnesses which could benefit from treatment with cannabis. It’s estimated that there are now over 2,000 dispensaries in that state.

Aberle began forming Statewide’s Medical Marijuana Division (MMD) in 2007, and since then it has provided insurance to clients in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island. Last year, he began expanding the national program. Premiums, he said, range from $650 – $25,000 a year, with different variables affecting the cost. A typical policy has premiums between $1,000 and $4,000.

A lobbyist with California Capitol Solutions in Sacramento told the Bee that Statewide’s MMD program is a “milestone in an industry that needs insurance protections for everyone in the distribution chain, from growers of the product to those that use it. He also said, “It’s very big, especially right now with public safety. Safety protocols need to be put into place.”

Del Real said that he represents medical cannabis dispensaries and other segments of the medical marijuana industry throughout California. He also said that the group with the fewest protections is the growers, asking, “How do we move out of residential areas and into commercial and industrial space?” He continued, “A lot of people are trying to get their minds around the cultivation of medical marijuana.”

According to Del Real, governments throughout California have decided numerous issues like whether insurance for dispensaries will be required. He said that there was, “… a big thing of catching up going on. Each community is passing its own laws, and that becomes problematic.”