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Federal cannabis legislation could clear air for hesitant insurers

U.S. Capital building

The difficult but improving insurance market for cannabis operators in the United States may get a boost from two pieces of legislation before Congress, one of which has already passed the House of Representatives. 

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2021, or SAFE Banking Act, in April passed the House with more than 100 co-sponsors and must clear the Senate, where it died after passing the House in 2019. 

The Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana Act of 2021, introduced in the House in March, would provide a federal safe harbor for insurers covering cannabis businesses in states where sale of the drug is legal. 

Senators and representatives from states that have legalized cannabis could be more supportive than previously of federal legislation such as the SAFE Banking Act, said Ian Stewart, chair of the national cannabis and hemp law practice at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP in Los Angeles, during a series of webinars on the cannabis sector produced by Business Insurance.

“There is very much a ‘trickle up’ effect,” said Michelle Rutter Friberg, deputy director of government relations at the National Cannabis Industry Association in Washington, referring to the dovetailing of state and federal agendas. “Once members of Congress have a vested interest, this becomes a bit of a different issue,” she said during the webinar series. 

The proposed laws are also garnering support from insurance industry organizations, including the American Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Reinsurance Association of America. 








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