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Health Insurance Might Soon be Available for the Cannabis Industry

July 20, 2020 02:00 pm ET
Health Insurance Might Soon be Available for the Cannabis Industry

Although many states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, actually accessing medical cannabis is a bit more difficult. Of course, if recreational cannabis is legal in your state, you can generally just walk into a dispensary and purchase what you want. But this is only the case in eleven states so far. If you live in one of the many other states that allow the purchase of medical cannabis but don’t permit recreational use, things will be a bit more complicated for you.

Part of the problem is that the regulations vary from state to state. Because there are no federal laws currently providing for the use of cannabis for any reason, each state gets to set its own restrictions. You have to follow your state’s procedures for obtaining a medical cannabis card, and once you’ve got the card, you can only use it for conditions your particular state deems appropriate to treat with cannabis. Another factor that stands in the way for those looking to use cannabis medically is the matter of health insurance.

Most health insurance plans don’t cover cannabis-based treatments, and many plans penalize members for being cannabis users in the first place. But a new plan is in the works that may be able to change all that.

A Cannabis Health Insurance Plan

The architects of the Cannabis Plan are NBA champion John Salley and his business partner Daron Phillips. Salley has been involved in multiple cannabis ventures over the past several years, from educating people about the importance of making sure they get clean cannabis to providing an organic brand that offered transparency about what was going into every product. That brand, called Deuces22, targeted those individuals committed to incorporating cannabis into a healthy lifestyle.

The intersection of cannabis and good health has clearly always been a high priority for Salley. Now, in putting together his plan, he and Phillips are taking that goal to the next level. 

Their plan will roll out with an offering of health insurance policies for cannabis businesses to offer to their employees. Currently, business insurance options for cannabis companies exist, but they are extremely limited. Salley’s plan would be the first health insurance policy to be offered within the cannabis industry.

And he hopes to take things further. The ultimate goal for the Cannabis Plan is to be able to insure individual users, to make certain that they are not penalized for their cannabis use by their insurance carriers, and perhaps, in the long term, to offer insurance coverage for cannabis-based health solutions as well.

Users Shouldn’t Be Penalized By Their Insurance 

Salley is more than just an idealistic dreamer. He has the numbers to back his vision up. “We did the math on how many times (employees of cannabis businesses) were hospitalized, and their average age,” Phillips told Benzinga, describing the research he and Salley had put into constructing their plan. At the end of the day, they found that they would be able to offer their plan to businesses with as few as two employees and that their solution was about 20% less costly than other, similar solutions that have been proposed.

What’s most important to Salley and Phillips is that those who rely on cannabis to maintain their health shouldn’t be penalized by their insurance companies the way, for example, tobacco smokers might be. Many people have had their overall health enhanced by cannabis-based solutions, and to punish them by making them bear the financial burden for that is unfair.

This plan is yet another sign that we as a society are moving in the right direction when it comes to medical cannabis.

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