Until recently, nearly all life insurers’ underwriting guidelines pegged cannabis user insurability akin to that of tobacco cigarette smokers.
Not any longer.
Today, many carriers offer standard and even preferred non-tobacco coverage to most otherwise-qualified adults who consume marijuana while abstaining from tobacco use.
And the number of companies doing this is continuing to increase.
Why this relatively sudden and notably dramatic change?
Because we now have overwhelming evidence that, in most settings, marijuana use confers no increased mortality risk.
The three leading causes of death are cancer, circulatory disease and chronic lung disease. The impact of marijuana use on each has been carefully studied, and here is what various teams of medical investigators have reported:
- Marijuana is not predictive of having an unfavorable cardiovascular risk profile (elevated blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and so on).
- There is no evidence of greater risk of either heart attacks or strokes in cannabis consumers.
- Circulatory system-related death rates do not differ between marijuana users and abstainers.
- Marijuana does not appear to be carcinogenic.
- Non-tobacco using marijuana smokers are not at increased risk for lung cancer. This is also true for malignancies arising in the head and neck area, for which tobacco and alcohol are the main culprits.
- Cannabis does not induce significant lung damage, and it is not an independent cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Clinical pulmonologists, who diagnose and treat lung disease, do not even recommend that marijuana smokers be routinely screened with pulmonary function tests; that is, unless they also happen to indulge in “coffin nails.”
The fourth ranked cause of death is trauma. Among those disposed to purchase individual life coverage, this consists largely of suicides and accidental deaths.
And although some individual anti-marijuana crusaders have suggested a relationship between cannabis and psychosis, particularly in adolescents, there is no proven increased risk of psychiatric disorders overall in adult pot users.
Properly done research has yielded no convincing evidence that marijuana use is associated with suicide.
On the other hand, the effects of alcohol, cannabis, many other “drugs of abuse,” plus those of prescription sleep aids such as benzodiazepines (Valium, etc.) and zolpidem, are all capable of causing motor vehicle accidents.
With regard to fatal accidents, a review of three studies found that while alcohol use profoundly heightens this risk, marijuana has the opposite effect. The odds associated with cannabis consumption were actually less than mathematically expected when pot users did not have a positive blood alcohol test.