Protective Life Insurance Discriminates Against Cannabis Consumers


Perceptions about cannabis have come a long way in society in recent decades. That is obviously due in large part to cannabis reform victories that have been achieved across the country and the benefits to society that come with those reform victories. Cannabis prohibition is a failed, harmful public policy and thankfully more and more states are realizing that fact and getting on the right side of history.

Gallup found a record level of support for cannabis legalization (64%) when it conducted its annual poll this year. In 1969 only 12% of poll participants supported legalization. This year was the first year that a majority of Republicans supported legalization. But as far as American society has come in regards to perceptions about cannabis there is still a lot of work left to be done.

Many people still face discrimination and have to deal with unfair stigma because they consume cannabis. One example of that is the apparent policy of the Protective Life Insurance company to refuse to offer life insurance to people that consume cannabis. Check out this tweet from earlier today:

I have never sold life insurance, but it seems that the basic math and logic involved is as follows:

  1. Life insurance companies collect monthly fees from customers and in exchange agree to give paying customers life insurance coverage that would help their families financially in the case of the customer’s death.
  2. Life insurance companies make a profit when people that pay fees live for a long time and their fees outpace the money that is paid out to people that unfortunately pass away prematurely.
  3. Life insurance companies help increase profits by refusing coverage to people that they think are at too great of a risk of dying prematurely.

That, of course, is an oversimplification but I think that it’s accurate based off of basic math and logic. If those basic principles weren’t true, life insurance companies would pay out more money that they bring in and they would go out of business. I fully appreciate that life insurance companies are meant to be profitable, but I cannot fathom why they would want to discriminate against cannabis consumers in the manner that Protective Life Insurance company appears to be doing to Mr. Bakas.

Protective Life Insurance company’s decision to refuse to offer coverage based on a customer’s cannabis consumption is apparently based on the political views of the company because it certainly isn’t based on science. The most basic thing that a life insurance company considers when deciding to offer coverage is whether or not the customer’s lifestyle puts them at a greater risk of dying prematurely. No one in the history of mankind has ever been recorded as having died from a cannabis overdose. Not one person.

Two other substances are responsible for a significant number of deaths annually in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use led to 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010. One study found that cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States according to the CDC. According to Rick Bakas Protective Life Insurance company did not make the same demand to refrain from alcohol or cigarette consumption that it did with cannabis consumption. That is extremely hypocritical.

One study from earlier this year found that cannabis use may lower the death rate related to prescription opioid medications. A study from 2014 found that cannabis use may lower the death rate among people that experience a traumatic brain injury. To be fair, I have read studies that suggest that cannabis use is associated with increased rates of hypertension, but those studies do not differentiate between consumption methods, and I have yet to see a study that says that ALL forms of cannabis consumption directly cause an increased rate of hypertension among cannabis consumers. Just because I put a CBD topical rub on a sore knee or elbow does not mean that I am increasing my chance of dying. I invite anyone to prove me wrong on that, especially members of the Protective Life Insurance company.

Regardless, the apparent policy of Protective Life Insurance company is such that there is a zero tolerance for cannabis consumption in all forms. They do not appear to be stating that cannabis consumption results in higher rates – it results in no offer of coverage at all. Cannabis is a legal medicine in 29 states, with more on the way in the near future. All but four states at least recognize the medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis consumption is legal for adults in 8 states and legal for both medical and adult use in Washington D.C. So why does Protective Life Insurance company discriminate so hard against cannabis consumers?

A better, more logical policy would be for Protective Life Insurance company to offer up a void of contract provision in its coverage if a person dies from a cannabis overdose (not to be confused with cannabis simply being in a person’s system at the time of death). Such a policy provision would help mitigate Protective Life’s concerns about a customer’s potential for a premature death due to cannabis use, and since no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose in recorded history, cannabis consuming customers shouldn’t have any concerns about such a policy provision either.

I see that Protective Life Insurance company tweeted back at Mr. Bakas asking to talk to him further about his situation. I am hopeful that Protective Life Insurance company uses this opportunity to educate itself on the benefits of cannabis, and re-evaluate their current ridiculous policy. Life insurance policies should be based on science, math, and logic, and not outdated political views. Until Protective Life Insurance company makes it clear that they have changed their position, I hope that people boycott them and refuse to give even one penny to the company.

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