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U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Menendez bill would cut risk for marijuana insurers

By Nikita Biryukov, March 18 2021 11:33 am

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez introduced a bill removing barriers to insuring marijuana businesses Thursday.

“The voters in New Jersey spoke loud and clear this November when they overwhelmingly approved of recreational marijuana use,” he said. “the governor and state legislature have acted, and now it’s time for the federal government to take the shackles off of state-authorized cannabis businesses, allowing this burgeoning industry to thrive.”

The bill, cosponsored by Menendez and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), would bar governments from penalizing insurers who provide coverage to legal marijuana businesses and block limits on insurers on the basis of their work with a marijuana business.

It would also policies encouraging or incentivizing insurers to avoid working with marijuana businesses and shield insurance company employees from liability related solely to business with cannabis companies.

Though most states have some form of legalized marijuana — even if it’s often only allowed for medicinal purposes — it remains illegal federal.

“Current federal law prevents these small business owners from getting insurance coverage, and without it, they can’t protect their property, employees or customers,” Menendez said. “Our legislation simply levels the playing field for legal cannabis businesses, allowing them to fully operate just as any other legal small business would by permitting insurance companies to provide coverage to these enterprises without risk of federal prosecution or other unintended consequences.”

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