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A Second Bipartisan Marijuana Insurance Bill Was Filed In Congress This Week

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A bipartisan bill to expand access to insurance coverage for marijuana businesses was introduced on Thursday, the latest in a series of business-focused cannabis legislation that’s been filed in Congress this year.

Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) are sponsoring the bill, which is nearly identical to legislation with the same short title filed by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and others earlier this week—with one exception.

Unlike the Senate version, this bill would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to “carry out a study on the barriers to marketplace entry, including in the licensing process, and the access to financial services for potential and existing minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses.”

The GAO would then have to submit to Congress a report on its findings and recommendations.

Currently, cannabis companies operating in compliance with state law are restricted in their ability to gain property, casualty and title insurance coverage. It’s another example of the unique financial challenges that the marijuana industry faces under the framework of federal prohibition.

“Due to discrepancies in federal and state law, insurers are understandably reluctant to provide coverage to legitimate, cannabis-based businesses,” Velázquez said. “Without casualty, property and title insurance coverage, the growth of this industry will be impeded if not blocked entirely.”

Increasingly, lawmakers are pursuing incremental legislative fixes to help level the playing field. A clear sign of that political interest came on Tuesday, when members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on resolving banking issues for the cannabis market.

Menendez, a member of that panel, brought up his insurance bill during the meeting and said that, without access to “comprehensive and affordable insurance coverage,” marijuana businesses “can’t protect their property, employees, or customers.”

The House Small Business Committee, which Velazquez chairs, also met in June to discuss challenges and opportunities for small marijuana companies. The congresswoman introduced a separate bill weeks later that would provide cannabis businesses access to federal Small Business Administration resources such as microloans, disaster assistance and the loan guaranty program.

Read Velazquez’s cannabis insurance bill below:

Rep. Velazquez marijuana in… by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Senate Hearing Represents A Step Toward Providing Marijuana Banking Access

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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