Lawmakers taking on medical marijuana insurance claims

4:58 PM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) -- Health insurance was never meant to cover the cost of medical marijuana and soon, car insurance won't be able to be used either to ease the pain of car wreck-related injuries.

The state Senate Judiciary committee voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit auto insurance companies from paying claims for medical marijuana.

And surprisingly enough, it's already happened, said Peter Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

"Absolutely, right out of the gate, companies started getting claims," he said, adding that some insurance companies covered the claims because the issue wasn't specifically addressed in the medical marijuana law.

Health insurance coverage is expressly prohibited in the medical marijuana law, but auto insurance wasn't anticipated by the authors of the bill.

But they want it to be.

Tim Beck, one of the original writers of the law that was passed by voters in 2008, said he wanted to be transparent in his negotiations on changes to the law that are being considered by the state legislature.

"If we're going to negotiate in good faith, we have to be honest," he said. "And the intent was never to have insurance pay for medical marijuana."

The car insurance prohibition now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Next on the list for medical marijuana clarifications are prohibiting medical marijuana from being covered under workers compensation claims and requiring people to live in the state for a year before they're eligible for medical marijuana certificates.

The latter addresses a problem Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, heard from Michigan State Police who have concerns about people renting a home in Michigan, getting a drivers license and a medical marijuana certificate and growing enough pot to take back to their home states for sale.

"This is not the sort of farmer we want to attract in Michigan," Jones said.

Jones, along with state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, plan to sponsor the legislation and hope it's brought up for action this year

By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

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