Washington, DC (WorkersCompenstion.com) – Legislation that would ease things a bit for insurers and others who work with the cannabis industry is on its way to the U.S. Senate. HR. 1595, the SAFE Banking Act of 2019, was approved on a 321 to 103 vote in the House.
Among those expressing support was the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. The PIA National said the legislation would protect insurance agents who service the industry.
“Thirty-three states have medical marijuana laws and eleven states have legalized it for recreational use,” said Jon Gentile, VP of Government Relations for PIA National. “As such, it is common sense to protect insurance agents from prosecution for doing business with cannabis-related businesses in states where they are legal.”
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, banks and other financial institutes are at risk of regulatory sanctions if they do business with the industry. The measure’s main sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Col0.) has said the cannabis business has to rely on cash right now.
The legislation could solve an issue for the workers’ compensation system; namely, how to pay for the drug in states where the law conflicts with the federal ban on the drug. Right now, it’s unclear whether payers can actually pay for medical marijuana and instead often reimburse injured workers who have been awarded the drug. So far, state courts do not require insurers to directly pay for the drug.
The fate of the measure in the Senate is unclear at this point. Sen. Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id) has been quoted as saying he might allow a committee vote sometime this year. Opponents have argued that Congress should first address the public health concerns about marijuana.