Release the Green – The New Marijuana Rules for Life Insurance

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With the federal government unveiling a plan to legalize marijuana before July 2018, the word marijuana has become a hot buzz word and topic. Many parents are wondering how to talk to their kids and teens about the drug. Politicians wondering what affect it will have on our society. People, who use it, will they be able to pop into their local cannabis distributor to buy some pot with no medical prescription required. Here are some points the government has already disclosed about its plans.

  • Marijuana will be available by way of a tightly controlled and regulated supply chain.
  • You can carry up to 30 grams of marijuana in your pocket or purse.
  • The product for sale will be free of flashy packaging, images of animals or people, or testimonials boasting about the product.
  • You won’t be able to buy it out of a self-service or vending machine.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 is out of luck; provinces and territories will have the option to set the minimum age higher than 18.

So many questions and discussions around the subject of marijuana and I believe there needs to be more. Even the stock market, if there’s one high-flying sector that’s sure to be a fan favorite in the Canadian markets these days, it would have to be the newly minted marijuana industry. Many investors are chomping at the bit to get a piece of the action.

It got me thinking and to start having more and more conversations with my clients about marijuana and the changes it will have on their life insurance policies. Advising them that insurers in Canada have begun underwriting medical and recreational marijuana users as non-smokers – reversing longstanding policies that those who use marijuana would pay triple to those of non-smokers. Needless to say, they are pleasantly surprised because that would normally be a subject they would be afraid of sharing when applying for insurance.  Different insurers are treating the amount you smoke in different ways. Some insurers are taking the most comprehensive approach, saying it will treat anyone who consumes marijuana but doesn’t smoke tobacco as a non-smoker. Some are taking a more restrained approach, limiting non-smoker status to people using only 2-4 marijuana cigarettes per week.

Why Are Insurers Making These Changes?

The change, says Joan Weir, director of Health and Dental Policy at CLHIA in Toronto, was thanks largely to a well-organized, public campaign by medical marijuana proponents. The campaign, she says, brought forth a convincing amount of scientific evidence as to pot’s benefits and its relative safety compared to tobacco. It’s great that they’re recognizing that the old policy wasn’t based on science. For those who have supported marijuana and its medical attributes, have been saying for a long time there’s no evidence that there is any long-term risk of cancer or anything equivalent to tobacco. Being treated as a smoker by insurers certainly, carries a financial sting. A $500,000 Term 20 policy on a 35-year-old non-smoker male would carry a cost of $37 per month, a smoker $93 per month.

Now if you were to walk down the street and ask 100 people their opinion on the subject you would get different answers on why it’s a positive or harmful change for us to be headed in this direction. The biggest pro arguments I hear is that it will lower crime, boost the economy, and help with medical purposes. A justified rebuttal would be, just because you legalize something won’t lower crime. All you are doing is not calling it a crime anymore. You want to help the economy, don’t throw your money away on drugs. Buy good things for your body, like healthy foods. Which then leads to medicinal purposes, eat well, live well, stay healthy, and use the money to make better medicine. The debate can go on and on. Let’s try and make smart decisions for the long term not just for today.


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