Workers’ comp insurer drops Hawaiian medical cannabis firms

Hawaii’s largest workers’ compensation insurer is canceling insurance policies for seven medical marijuana dispensaries preparing to open this summer.

Hawaii Employers’ Mutual Insurance Co. (HEMIC) – citing concerns over criminal liability since cannabis is illegal at the federal level – notified the dispensaries Wednesday their policies will be canceled in 30 days and premiums refunded, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

HEMIC said its board of directors unanimously agreed to the decision after two independent legal opinions determined the company would have “potential exposure for criminal liability” based on federal law.

The insurer declined to identify the seven companies or how much they will be refunded. HEMIC doesn’t cover Hawaii’s eighth marijuana dispensary.

The move could delay the opening of Hawaii’s first dispensaries because state law mandates businesses provide workers’ compensation insurance. The insurance covers medical expenses and loss of income for employees injured on the job and also protects businesses from lawsuits by workers who are injured because of workplace conditions.

Three Hawaiian dispensaries have harvested crops and are ready to begin sales – Oahu’s Aloha Green Holdings, Maui Grown Therapies and Pono Life Sciences Maui.

– Associated Press