Canadian Underwriter

The type of claims that may arise from legalization of cannabis edibles

February 14, 2019   by Jason Contant

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With the upcoming legalization of edibles containing cannabis this October, Canadian claims adjusters may see more indirect injury loss and damage claims, suggests a lawyer with Field Law in Calgary.

Compared to regular smoked marijuana, edibles have a more delayed and prolonged reaction, meaning the ability to predict impairment will create an additional challenge for adjusters.

On the auto and injury side, a claimant “might be wanting to argue some kind of contributory negligence if the other party was impaired, even though maybe they didn’t cause the accident per se,” said Erika Carrasco, a partner at Field Law who leads the firm’s emerging technology team. “Those are some of the additional quandaries we are going to face with respect to edibles and how they might cause or contribute to injury loss and damage under certain policies.

“Once a claim arises, how do you assess something when you don’t even know it may even be at play in the circumstances?” Carrasco asked.

She spoke to Canadian Underwriter last week about cannabis coverage issues. In late January, Carrasco was one of the presenters from Field Law at the Insurance Institute of Canada’s Impact of Cannabis on the Insurance Industry seminar.

Although recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada since Oct. 17, 2018, typical insurance policies don’t distinguish between what format the cannabis is in. Sometimes cannabis is listed as a drug under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or referred to as an illegal or legal substance. Other times wording can include, for example, “use of cannabis or cannabis products or any substance containing THC,” the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

“The impact of edibles on that wording shouldn’t be any different than the legalization of cannabis,” Carrasco said, referring to the Oct. 17, 2018 legalization.

But claims adjusters may have to adjust their questions to cover off issues related to coverage. “We might have to have specific questions [like], ‘Do you regularly use cannabis? How often do you use it? In what format? Where do you purchase it from? What strains do you use?’” Carrasco suggested. “A lot more detailed questioning might occur depending on if there’s a chance that the person or a party could have been impaired by cannabis use.”

It’s also important to note that while recreational cannabis is legal, “it’s only legal within certain parameters,” Carrasco pointed out. “We’ve had these exclusions in the past about illegal drugs or marijuana or cannabis, but right now what you still need to have in place is an exclusion that if your insured is using cannabis outside the scope of the regulatory framework, they should still be excluded from coverage.”

It’s hard to tell where claims will go from an edibles standpoint; the industry still hasn’t seen the full effects of the “first wave” of legalization. “I think we are still a little ways out to see what will some of the impacts be on claims and coverage going forward because right now I think we will see them mostly on the impairment side.”

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9 Comments » for The type of claims that may arise from legalization of cannabis edibles
  1. Bob says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Ok chicken little….

  2. Isaac Maw says:

    Congrats Jason Contant on the article views, because I’ve never even heard of Camadian Underwriter and this article showed up in my google news feed.


  3. AGNES H. says:

    Wow…. seriously?
    Create your own gummies please…
    Stop copying the look of vitamins gummies for children..
    Please.. save are children

  4. Michael says:

    One of the biggest issues is ignorance, and the insurance companies use this to make money. Fact, studies have proven that there is little difference in driving abilities between a stoned driver and a sober one, some like the AAA study even suggested that since a stoned drive knows he’s stoned drive slower to compensate their reaction time and focus more on the road, making them safer in general.

    • Bob says:

      Citation needed^^

      Here is an actual article on the subject –

      “Marijuana use in driving is a growing, contributing factor to fatal crashes,” said Jake Nelson, the director of traffic safety advocacy and research at the American Automobile Association (AAA) said. “It’s a highway safety problem that we should all be concerned about.”

      It’s infuriating how many people are still arguing that being stoned doesn’t impair your ability to drive. The vast majority of the people I see claiming this are “speaking from personal experience” and have cited zero studies to back it up. This is true ignorance, and it’s this ignorance that allows otherwise good people to make poor decisions and ruin lives.

  5. Tracy says:

    A drunk will frequently drive slower too and a slow car can create it’s own hazard. Regardless both drivers have impaired reaction times. The biggest issue is that there isn’t an established level of “safe” impairment. You can have a BAC of .08 in most states and be legal. I am not aware of a similar rating for cannabis.

  6. Frank Cain says:

    Cannabis was made illegal in Canada in 1923. It was not until the baby boomers came of age in the 1960s that cannabis became the drug of choice. In 1969, the drug act allowed for summary conviction for possession but impairment for usage before or while driving was never given a thought. So there is every reason to believe that within the past two generations, cannabis could have been a factor in vehicle accidents but no one bothered to check. As it turns out, breathalyzers are for alcohol so the point is, why all the hoopla now for something that has been percolating for the past 50 years or so but never questioned?

  7. Jennifer says:

    I’m interested to understand how there is such concern over cannabis (justified or not) however there is little to no regulation or data surrounding legal prescription drugs that could cause much more significant impairments – does anyone have reference to the study of legal prescription drugs and vehicular accidents? This applies not only to auto but to Work Comp and other job related concerns

  8. Judy says:

    I agree with the “sky is falling” comment. People have been smoking pot and eating “brownies” for ever…..why are we making such a big deal about this. All this is doing is increasing rates and making lawyers richer – for no reason. Nothing has changed as far as risk goes except that it is now “legal”.

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