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Cannabis legalization and your insurance: What you need to know

On October 17, 2018, the Government of Canada legalized and regulated access to cannabis.

This legislation will:

  • Allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis
  • Allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household
  • Set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces to increase the age limit
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial government
  • Establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol impaired driving

Should you choose to use cannabis on a recreational or medical basis, here are some important things you need to be aware of with regards to your insurance.

Car Insurance and Cannabis

In June of 2018, Alberta’s alcohol and drug impaired driving offences came into effect to align with new federal drug laws.

With the legalization of marijuana, cannabis use is being looked at the same way as alcohol use when it comes to getting behind the wheel. While legal, if you are driving under the influence of marijuana and are over the legal limit, even if it is intended for medicinal purposes, it will affect your insurance the same way an alcohol conviction would.

Whether it is from alcohol or illegal drugs, a DUI is a criminal code conviction that will stay on your record for five years from the date of conviction. You will also automatically have your license suspended. These things combined can affect the rates you pay for car insurance for several years. During the first three years, you are considered high risk and will be charged an extra free on top of your premiums. The next two years you are eligible to be placed in a regular insurance market but will also be charged an extra fee for a higher risk as well.

The hike in your rates comes as a direct result from insurance companies seeing you as a greater risk based on statistics and actuarial data.

According to data from Intact Insurance, drivers with a DUI conviction are 30-40% more likely to be involved in an accident. Data from MADD Canada says 30% of drivers with a DUI; get another DUI within 10 years.

Lastly, should you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you forfeit the right to claim for any damages and injuries to a third party.


Legal Limits

Under the new drug-impaired driving offences, the maximum amount of THC blood concentration level a driver can have is 2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml).

Note:  Drivers under that Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that are found to have any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs in their blood are now subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol. These include:

  • immediate 30-day license suspension
  • immediate 7-day vehicle seizure
  • must remain in GDL program for 2 years and have no suspensions in the last year to graduate from the program

For more information regarding the impaired driving law changes in Alberta, click here.


Cannabis and home insurance

When it comes to having medicinal cannabis, marijuana plants, or cannabis accouterments in your home, depending on which company your insurance is with, you will be provided coverage under the contents section of your home, condo and tenants insurance policy.

For more information on the legal amounts of cannabis possession under the new legislation, click here.

The above mentioned items related to cannabis can sometimes fall under what is called a special limit. A special limit on your insurance policy is essentially a limitation within the wording of your coverage that outlines the maximum that would be paid out for certain items in the event of a claim.

Please contact your Sharp Insurance broker to discuss special limits on your policy as every insurance company is different.

At Sharp, we understand the insurance can be complicated and confusion. As always, feel free to contact your Sharp Insurance broker with regards to any questions or concerns you may have with regards to the legalization of cannabis and your insurance.