Most life insurance companies treat marijuana like tobacco since there are many states that have legalized marijuana. Unlike cocaine or other drugs, marijuana is not automatically grounds for denial of insurance. However, you will most likely be charged a higher insurance price for using marijuana. Each life insurance company underwrites marijuana differently.  When evaluating an applicant, certain factors come into play when dealing with marijuana usage:

  • Whether the use of marijuana is recreational or medicinal;
  • If medicinal, what the disease is for the use;
  • How the marijuana is used (whether smoked, vaporized, pill-form, liquid-form,
  • How often marijuana is used

What If I Use Marijuana for Medical Purposes?

If you use marijuana for medical reasons, it is still unlikely an insurance company would deny life insurance because you use marijuana. Some companies might still consider a medical marijuana user a smoker and raise fees accordingly. Other insurance companies might not. However, medical marijuana users might have higher life insurance fees than other life insurance holders. Even if marijuana is not considered a risk, the reason a medical marijuana user needs to smoke, ingest, or take marijuana would likely be considered a risk.

For instance, a patient who ingests marijuana to help treat cancer will likely see higher life insurance rates independent of the benefits or risks of marijuana. The cancer itself would raise fees because cancer itself is a risk that the insurance company needs to take into account.

Why Would an Insurance Company Charge More If I Use Marijuana?

Insurance companies can view marijuana as a risk just like they would view a tobacco smoker as a risk. Even though there are no reported deaths from marijuana overdose, insurance companies are concerned about marijuana’s long-term effects and they will label you as a smoker. Whether or not marijuana actually causes psychosis or circulatory problems, among other issues, is not clear. The important thing is that insurance companies believe they do.

What Happens If I Lie or Fail to Disclose My Marijuana Use?

This depends on the exact agreement you have with your insurance company. Almost all insurance companies will deny insurance if an applicant lies about his or her marijuana use. You must be upfront about your usage or your family could be left with no money when they need help the most. Failing to disclose can be automatic rejection or higher premiums. 

How Would the Insurance Company Know If I Withhold Information?

Most insurance companies ask that applicants submit to a medical examination before the company offers insurance. Such exams often test blood and urine. THC, a chemical found in marijuana, is slow to break down and often shows up in blood or urine samples. It is likely that an insurance company could discover unreported marijuana use.

Would Life Insurance Companies Be Required to Disclose My Marijuana Use to Law Enforcement?

It depends. The law requires that insurance companies provide information about their clients only under certain circumstances:

  • To comply with a court order;
  • To identify a fugitive, suspect, material witness, or missing person;
  • To identity child abuse or neglect;
  • To alert law enforcement about the death of an individual if criminal activity was involved; or
  • When required by law, such as reports of stab or bullet wounds.

There are several more instances where an insurance company would have to surrender medical information about their client, but these are the main exceptions. Out of these five, an insurance company would have to surrender information about a client’s marijuana use if a court ordered the insurance company to do so or if required by law. Although most states don’t require insurance companies to report their clients’ drug use, that may or may not change in the future.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Although life insurance companies have a broad range of categories they can use to determine if an applicant is eligible for a life insurance policy, there are still some factors such companies cannot consider when determining eligibility. If you feel you have been unfairly denied a life insurance policy, you may want to contact an attorney to see if you are entitled to any damages for being unfairly discriminated against. A lawyer can advise you of what course of action you should take.