Posts

Marijuana Law Professional Discusses the Growing Need For Cannabis Coverage

marijuana law professional discusses the growing need for cannabis insurance coverage

The demand for cannabis insurance specialists is increasing as general awareness spreads about medical marijuana and the legalization wave continues across the country. One marijuana law professional, Ian Stewart from Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, has been speaking at conferences frequently discussing the growing need for cannabis coverage.

Stewart has talked about the need for cybersecurity insurance in the cannabis space considering the vast amounts of data that is being collected from seed-to-sale programs and medical marijuana programs. He has also touched upon the potential of cannabis product liability claims from untested or improperly packaged marijuana products. In an interview by the Insurance Journal, Ian Stewart expounded on some more cannabis business related risks he is foreseeing.

cyber security is a significant risk for cannabis companies and marijuana insurance is becoming even more important

Insurance Journal: What sort of unique or interesting claims do you think that we’re seeing, expect to see, or are we seeing from these cannabis coverages?

Stewart: However, I think that the sort of unspoken danger that a lot of certainly the licensed operators don’t appreciate is the risk of consumer class actions. You know, basically there are cases where a consumer will come in and they’ll by a product that is technically adulterated or mislabeled or contaminated in some way, maybe they’re violating some state regulation, and the state cannabis regulations are really onerous. It’s really hard for operators to be fully compliant.

So, the trick is these lawyers will find a product that is in some way violating a state regulation and then file consumer class action under state consumer protection laws. Frequently those are uninsured or under-insured claims, and they’re dangerous because they have fee shifting where the attorneys can get their attorney’s fees, there’s statutory damages, disbursement of profits. They’re pretty dangerous, and we’re starting to see those get filed now in California and elsewhere.

Insurance Journal: You mentioned something in your talk (at PLUS) about doctors looking for coverage for prescribing marijuana and that you expect that to pick up. How do you see that picking up? Where do you see these doctors going to find coverage, and what sort of coverages are they going be looking for?

Stewart: We’re seeing more and more issues of interactions, you know, overlay where in the past it may have been a patient who just has a drug history of marijuana and cocaine. But now that patient may be adding CBD or marijuana to their panel of medications, and maybe there’s overlay with mental health issues or substance abuse. So, it can be really difficult for physicians now to tread those waters, get informed consent, adequately advise their patients, and in some cases even offer CBD or marijuana instead of opiates, for example.

While access to traditional forms of insurance is a little more limited for cannabis business professionals, as long as you connect with the right cannabis insurance specialists, very good alternatives exist for you. Contact Eric Rahn or David Rahn of S2S Insurance Specialists to find out more.

Read more at InsuranceJournal.com

Cannabis Insurance: Directors and Officers Liability Insurance

Both the adult-use and medical marijuana industries are growing at an incredible pace. The massive push to normalize the consumption of marijuana, whether it is patients viewing cannabis as just another form of medication or adults seeing marijuana like alcohol, will eventually make the legal cannabis industry as mainstream as any other business industry. Bearing that in mind, cannabis businesses need to understand how to manage their risks appropriately. The risks inherent to the cannabis industry are the specialty of S2S Insurance Specialists. Financial risks for a company starts at the top, hence the creation of Directors and Officers Liability Insurance.

s2s insurance specialists, Directors and Officers Liability Insurance for cannabis businesses, marijuana insurance

If you are taking outside investor funds from private equity sources, venture capital or friends and family, you need D&O Insurance. Directors and officers bear the most risks associated with owning a privately held, non-profit or publicly traded corporation. As the owner, director or officer of a cannabis business you may take on roles within the company that require providing professional advice or making difficult decisions. Any owner, director or officer in a management positions may be the focus of potential  litigation.

All  businesses are vulnerable to being sued by shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees or competitors. A recent Towers Watson survey showed that public, private, and non-profit companies all face directors and officers litigation risks. In fact, as the director or officer of a business that handles state legal marijuana, your challenges are more complex with the current State and federal  banking, employment and transportation issues the that the cannabis industry faces..

Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance, which means it is listed on the Controlled Substance Act making it as illegal of a substance as exists on the federal level. Despite the fact that 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and nine states have either implemented an adult-use market or are in the process of setting one up, banks remain reluctant to accept funds from a cannabis company forcing cannabis business to operate on a cash-only basis. Working exclusively with cash makes filing taxes, especially with tax code 280E preventing marijuana business owners from writing off normal business expenses, difficult to simply organize expenses and income. Considering these additional challenges, Directors and Officers Liability Insurance for marijuana companies is that much more important. Staying organized is the key to having a successful cannabis business.

Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance protects the personal assets of directors, officers and their spouses in the event they are personally sued by employees, vendors, competitors, investors, customers or other parties for acts while managing a company. It covers legal defense fees and settlements, and provides the standard indemnification provisions that hold officers harmless for losses due to their position at the company.

budtender, marijuana business, who insures the marijuana industry, liability insurance for marijuana

Budtender

Some examples of insurable claims in the cannabis industry have resulted from various aspects of the operations. Let’s say a budtender is in the unfortunate circumstance of being on shift during a robbery or a cannabis trimmer hurts themselves due to faulty machinery. The care of cannabis plants during the cultivation process often involves highly sophisticated equipment, especially for indoor grows, and the preparation of cannabis concentrates can create intense fire hazards. The naming of cannabis strains is a sensitive issue as well. There is no standardized method of naming strains and recent lawsuits against the creators of Gorilla Glue and Girl Scout Cookies ended up in favor of the plaintiffs. The cannabis industry involves many financial hazards in all reality, which makes insurance for marijuana all the more important.

cannabis trimmer, cannabis insurance, Directors and Officers Liability insurance for marijuana

Trimmer

A director or officer could be sued for any of the following reasons:

  • Failing at their fiduciary responsibilities
  • Misrepresenting company assets
  • Using company funds inappropriately
  • Misrepresentations by the board of directors
  • Failure of the board of directors to take appropriate actions
  • Infighting between board members and shareholders
  • Not following the laws of the workplace
  • Stealing intellectual property or taking a competitor’s customers
  • Failure meet state and federal requirements
  • Not managing the company properly
  • Fraud

Do not think for a moment that your company has to be generating millions of dollars each year for these financial risks to become a reality. According to a 2016 CHUBB survey, financial losses due to lawsuits for the above reasons ranged anywhere from $387,000 to $17 million. Needless to say, losses such as these would devastate most companies, especially a small cannabis business trying to find footing in this complex space. Unless of course that company has taken on the right sort liability insurance for cannabis.

dispensary insurance, testing lab insurance, who insures the cannabis industry, insurance for marijuana cannabis business, who insures the marijuana industry, liability insurance for marijuana

cannabis employers liability insurance, dispensary insurance, testing lab insurance, cannabis directors and officers

Source: CHUBB

S2S Insurance Specialists provides Director and Officers Liability Insurance for companies  in both Canada and the United States. We cover Canadian cannabis businesses including public Canadian companies that are operating exclusively in Canada or in the United States as well. We also provide policies for private U.S. cannabis companies which includes startups and both emerging and mature companies. We write policies from US$1M to over US$25M+.

D&O Liability Insurance can also cover:

  • Employers Practices Liability – which protects an employer from a lawsuit filed by an employee for a wrongful act
  • Fiduciary/Crime – which covers an employer from a theft by an employee
  • Errors and Omissions – which covers General Counsel costs and other professional advice fees, especially for companies practicing in the medical marijuana space.

Directors and Officers Liability Insurance does not cover marijuana companies for  any illegal acts.

It must be brought up since the cannabis industry is transitioning away from the illicit market. All cannabis companies must be operating with all of the state licenses and permits necessary to operate legally. Missing, not understanding or forgetting to go through the proper measures to receive a valid license from your state will never be excusable. Please take the time to make sure your cannabis business is setup properly with the state or any cannabis insurance coverage could become void.  

Understanding the risks associated with owning a business that directly handles the marijuana plant or an ancillary business connected to the marijuana industry is the business of S2S Insurance Specialists. We are advocates for cannabis, but more importantly we are insurance professionals. Insurance for marijuana companies is essential. We want you to know that you can count on us to not only provide you with proper coverage but also in helping you understand the risks inherent in owning a marijuana company. Those risks start at the top with the directors and officers of a marijuana company. Liabilities exist everywhere in the cannabis industry, whether it is banking or merchant service issues, the Schedule 1 status of cannabis or the normal day-to-day risks of owning any company. Let us help you cover all of your bases and avoid financial setbacks to help you survive and flourish in this new incredible industry where there are no limits for where your company could go.

Contact us at S2S Insurance Insurance Specialist, www.s2sinsure.com  or call 1-954-790-6604 and talk to Eric or David Rahn.