Should Insurance Companies Cover Cannabis? New Jersey Thinks So!

In the next few years, new state laws could allow for the legalization of recreational cannabis. But here in New Jersey, we already have a medical marijuana law on the books, and with the state senator from New Jersey’s 20th District, Bob Smith, championing a bill to make the legal adult use of cannabis a reality, it looks like New Jersey could legalize recreational cannabis sooner rather than later.

As the debate over medical marijuana grows, a new proposal in New Jersey could have a huge impact on the industry from now on. The state legislature is considering a bill which would allow for the medicinal use of marijuana for just about any condition, so long as the patient has a medical marijuana card. New Jersey could become the fifth state to make cannabis available with a doctor’s prescription, and the first state to do so without allowing for any recreational use.

After many years of fighting against it, New Jersey is finally making moves to make cannabis legal in the state. The bill, which Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed before the end of the 2018-2019 legislative session, eliminates the use of jail time for possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and allows for the sale and tax revenues from sales of marijuana and its derivatives.

When it comes to medicinal cannabis and insurance companies, many individuals feel that this medication should be covered. Insurance firms, on the other hand, operate in a somewhat different manner. Could it be just a matter of time until cannabis is legal in every state and covered by insurance in the same way as other medications, with more states legalizing it than ever before?

Insurance companies will eventually have to deal with this problem. Do you think medicinal marijuana should be covered by health insurance? If that’s the case, you’re not alone. New Jersey just approved a recreational adult-use cannabis legislation, and it seems that the state is gearing up to push for insurance companies to cover medicinal marijuana, at least in certain cases.

New Jersey is a pioneer in the field of cannabis insurance.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering forcing insurers to offer medicinal cannabis insurance provided certain conditions are met. Bill A1708 was advanced by the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee. According to New Jersey law, “personal injury protection car insurance benefits and workers’ compensation benefits must include reimbursement for expenses connected with the medicinal use of marijuana if the insured or employee is a qualified patient.” If the new legislation is passed, it will only apply to those who are currently registered as patients in New Jersey’s medicinal cannabis program.

The bill has had a lot of support and seems to be going ahead well. The State Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions passed measure A1708 in February of last year. It passed the committee in February with a vote of 7 to 4 in favor. Vice President Allison Cooper of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association’s State Affairs Department testified, stating,

“Of course, the most serious issue we have is that it puts insurers in a terrible position by possibly compelling them to break federal law. We think it would be preferable to wait until Congress addresses the inconsistencies between federal and state law before moving forward with this proposal.”

This may explain why the measure has taken so long to make its way through the assembly committee. Despite what President Biden says, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already shown interest in addressing the federal status of cannabis. However, even that has been progressing at a glacial pace.

The bill’s most recent action occurred on June 21st of this year, when minor changes were approved. This is an excellent indication!

New Jersey has been laying the groundwork for a long time.

About 20 years ago, a man living in New Jersey named Vincent Hager was working for M&K Construction. He had cement dumped on him, causing substantial injuries. Twenty years later, after exhausting all medical avenues, including becoming addicted to opioids, the State Appellate Division ruled that M&K Construction has to reimburse Vincent Hager $616 a month to cover the medical marijuana he uses as a treatment for the injuries he received in 2001. According to the judge’s ruling, private health insurers and government aid programs do not have to pay for medical cannabis according to state law. However, that law does not apply to a private company.

This wasn’t the first time the state of New Jersey had ruled in favor of a medical cannabis patient. This could be a step in the right direction for cannabis patients and insurance companies. For Bill A1708 to pass, it has to receive approval from both legislative chambers and New Jersey’s Governor. Considering the state of New Jersey just passed the implementation of a retail adult cannabis market, it shows a good sign that insurance laws in the state of New Jersey could change too.

Treat Medical Cannabis as if it were a prescription drug.

Many individuals think that medicinal cannabis should be handled in the same way as it is classified. If legislation is enacted forcing people to get medical advice and buy their medication from a licensed medical institution, it should be covered by insurance. Insurance companies say that covering medicinal cannabis in areas where it is allowed puts them in a situation where they are violating federal law unwittingly. Others argue that insurance firms are being dishonest by failing to pay benefits that they are obligated to pay.

When the insurance business understands how much money they can make covering medicinal cannabis, it should be a no-brainer for them to leap in with both feet, embracing patients seeking coverage. What are your thoughts on medicinal marijuana and insurance? To keep the discussion going, let us know in the comments section below!

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Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist who is working to abolish prohibition across the world for a brighter future for everyone. Ashley is passionate about spreading knowledge about the goddess plant known as cannabis. She thinks that a single seed can tilt the scales, and that by working together to remove the stigma around cannabis, we can help it reach its full potential worldwide.

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