The use of both medicinal and recreational marijuana is more popular than ever. More and more states have or are in the process of passing legislation which allows the legal use of either medical or recreational marijuana. The question of how THC impacts life insurance is becoming increasingly common across the nation.
Yet many life insurance companies are reluctant to approve a life insurance policy for anyone with THC in their system. Many of these companies automatically decline someone for any amount of marijuana. This is largely because the Federal government still considers marijuana illegal.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of life insurance companies which are taking a much more liberal approach. They are looking at the data. The data says more people are smoking. Plus most of the health effects associated with tobacco do not carry over to cannabis.
Can I get non-smoker rates?
Some of these more lenient life insurers will rate marijuana use as “Smoker”. It doesn’t matter how much or little you choose to smoke. Yet, there are still a few companies who couldn’t care less for the occasional indulgence and thus provide a better rating.
Quick Tip: If you smoke marijuana less than 3 times per week, view rates now by using the Instant Quotes form on this page. Enter your information; Select “NO” for smoker and “Regular Plus” for health class. Scroll down to the rate for “Prudential”. This will give you an idea of cost.
Many life insurance companies are taking a cautious approach when it comes to how they view the consumption of THC.
Let’s take a closer look at how THC works as well as affects the body in order to understand why insurance companies make the decisions they do.
What is THC and How Does It Affect the Body?
THC is the active chemical most responsible for both the physiological and psychological effects of marijuana, hash, and cannabis oil.
THC is an acronym for chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol. The glands of the the cannabis plant secrete resin containing THC. The flower produces the highest concentration of these resin glands.
This is why the flower, which most people refer to as the bud, is the most desirable portion of the marijuana plant. The bud contains the highest concentration of THC. The leaves of the plant also contain THC, but the concentration is much lower.
The human brain contains a number of receptors which are called “Cannabinoid Receptors.” These receptors are concentrated in various areas of the brain.
Cannabinoid receptors affect the following:
- Time Perception
When you injest marijuana through either smoking or eating, THC will stimulate the receptors. This causes brain cells to release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It is essentially responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells, known as neurons.
The Practical Effects
The affect of dopamine release through the ingestion of THC causes the high.
Some studies show that the drug can continue to negatively impact on a person’s motor skills even after they come down.
There are also a wide range of side effects caused by the ingestion of THC. Although it is often difficult to categorize the side effects and primary effect, so this is according to scientific studies. These side effects can vary significantly from person to person. It can also depend on the strain you smoke. The more common side effects of THC include:
- Short term memory recall issues
- Pain relief
- Hunger – also more popularly known as the munchies
A small number of people report extreme side effects which include hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. People who smoke way too much or have other underlying medical conditions are more likely to experience these more extreme side effects.
The effects of THC usually kick in anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes after the drug is ingested according to studies. Those of us who can find the good stuff know it doesn’t take that long. Edibles take a little longer, at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Of course that depends on whether you bought gummies at a dispensary or made brownies at home.
Health and Psychological Risks of THC
Does smoking cannabis have a negative impact on your health? From a life insurance perspective this is a difficult question to answer. The reason is that many of the research and medical studies vary in their results and even contradict one another.
Most people smoke the bud as their primary method of consumption. This leads to the question of whether THC and other active chemical ingredients found in marijuana can cause cancer – especially lung cancer.
It appears clear that the marijuana plant does contain some carcinogens which are chemicals that can cause cancer. However, many researchers also point out that most marijuana smokers smoke a lot less than cigarette smokers. Researchers point out that smoking a joint once or twice a week will have a much lower risk of causing lung cancer than smoking 25 or more cigarettes per day. (Can you imagine smoking 25 joints a day?)
The other major health concern of smoking cannabis is whether marijuana can ultimately impair lung function. There is no evidence which supports this concern. Some studies show that using marijuana may even increase lung capacity.
One of the biggest concerns about the negative health impacts of marijuana is that it does affect a person’s motor skills. It can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or other equipment requiring complex motor skills.
How THC Affects Minors and Fertility
Another area of concern is that a number of studies show that marijuana may have a more lasting negative effect on younger people. Those under the age of 18 years of age are still in the formative process.
Some people believe THC is responsible for lowering a younger person’s I.Q. as well as reducing memory and cognition capacity. However, most experts say that more research needs to be performed to validate these initial findings.
Other studies claim that THC can have a negative effect on the fertility of both men and women. Additional studies claim that using THC while pregnant can also impair the cognitive ability of the fetus. Again, much more research needs to be done before these results can be validated.
Overall, it does appear that there are some potential health risks when it comes to consuming THC and the other chemical compounds found in marijuana. However, because it is so difficult to study (thanks to the feds) and much of the funding is suspect, it is difficult to say anything with certainty.
Medical Benefits of THC
As most people know, more and more researchers and physicians have found that THC has a number of beneficial medical uses. This prescription treats an increasing number of conditions as scientists find more evidence of the usefulness of cannabis.
Cannabis has been used to treat medical conditions for over 3,000 years. Western medicine began to use cannabis to treat medical conditions as far back as the 19th century. It was used and is still used today to treat pain, spasms, inflammation and convulsions.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of 2 cannabinoids known as Dronabinol and Nabilone. These synthetic forms of THC are used for the prevention and treatment of chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting. Studies even show cannabis can kill cancerous cells in lab tests.
Medical Conditions Commonly Treated with Marijuana
There are also a variety of specific ailments where THC cannabinoids are being used for treatment purposes including:
• Glaucoma – This disease can lead to damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision because of the build up of pressure. Studies show THC can decrease the pressure as well as decrease the progression of the disease.
• Epileptic Seizures – medical marijuana can either dramatically reduce epileptic seizures or eliminate them altogether. This also includes the seizure effects found in Dravet’s Syndrome.
• May Stop Cancer from Spreading – A number of studies have shown that a chemical found in marijuana was able to reduce the spread of some cancer cells. Some studies have shown this chemical can even kill cancer cells.
• Reduces Anxiety – Many cancer sufferers and those with life threatening diseases may experience extreme anxiety. Low doses of marijuana have been shown to reduce anxiety levels.
• Multiple Sclerosis – THC has been shown to reduce pain when it binds to the brain cells. A number of people who have been prescribed marijuana with MS claim to have lower levels of pain and reduced muscle spasms when ingesting the drug.
• Hepatitis C – The treatment for hepatitis C has harsh side effects such as fatigue, nausea, depression, loss of appetite and muscle aches. These effects can last for months. Many of those receiving treatment will stop the treatment because of these side effects. Medical marijuana patients found many of these side effects drastically diminished and were more likely to complete the treatment regimen.
• Inflammatory Bowel and Crohn’s Disease – Studies have shown that cannabis has helped people with these conditions because of the chemical composition. THC, cannabinoids, and other marijuana chemicals appear to have a positive effect on the intestine.
• Arthritis – Marijuana reduces both the pain and the inflammation caused by arthritis.
• Parkinson’s – People with this condition say that using marijuana reduces pain. It also lessens the tremors and helps people sleep better. See what happens in this Youtube video of a man with Parkinson’s trying medical marijuana.
These are just some of the diseases which marijuana and THC helps. Doctors are also starting to prescribe medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD and stroke patients.
There are so many positive applications of medical marijuana. Research continues to see how THC can be used in a variety of medical applications.
Can You Overdose on THC?
No. Some people have adverse reactions from THC and end up in the emergency room. A marijuana overdose is a misnomer.
A marijuana overdose is often referred to as a “greening out.” Consuming THC is not life threatening. It is not in any way similar to an overdose from other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or meth. It is also possible a person might have other underlying health risks that THC triggers.
Most people who go to the emergency room for treatment tend to be first timers or just smoked way too much. The “overdose” symptoms they report include:
• Temporary feelings of paranoia, fear, and anxiety
• Shortness of breath
• Pupil dilation
• Vomiting and/or nausea
• Fast heart rate
• Shaking that is hard to control, feeling cold
• Disorientation or hallucinations
These symptoms will reduce gradually on their own within a few hours as the drug wears off. Doctors may give people with severe reactions anti-anxiety medication.
However, sometimes there are occasions where street sellers are adding the synthetic drug Fentanyl to the marijuana they sell. Fentanyl is a form of synthetic morphine which if even taking in the smallest amounts can cause a true overdose and can potentially kill a person. This is an extremely rare occurrence.
Can a THC Overdose Cause Death?
Any excess use of a substance will likely result in death. However, the amount of THC you would have to consume would be so extraordinarily extreme the answer to this question is no.
Researchers who studied this found that a fatal THC dose would require that you consume as much 40,000 times the amount of THC that it took to get you high. Essentially, a 140 pound person would need to consume 4 pounds of marijuana before the substance would result in death.
It should also be noted that the cannabis available today is a lot stronger than the stuff smoked back in the late 1960’s through to the 1990’s. Since then, breeders and growers have created a whole host of new strains of marijuana with higher concentrations of THC.
Previously, the amount of THC was limited to around 1 – 4 %. The average of THC concentration today is around 13%. New strains containing THC concentrates anywhere from 25% to as high as 37% are now available.
How Do Life Insurers Test for THC?
How THC impacts life insurance all depends on the results of your medical exam. Anyone who applies for a standard term or permanent life insurance policy must take a medical exam.
This includes a drug test. The most common test for the existence of THC is known as the Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique Test for Marijuana. This is also known as the EMIT test. This test detects THC as well as a variety of other drugs.
The process involves specific antibodies which bind to the substance in question or their metabolites. When the test result is positive, the existence of the drug in the urine causes the sample to change color such as blue. The EMIT test can also measure the amount of THC in your system.
Having a positive result from the EMIT test for THC automatically affects the life insurance company’s ratings. The best rating for a policy is when your test for THC is negative. It’s always best to avoid using the drug at least 6 weeks before a life insurance medical exam to obtain a negative result.
Having a negative result for THC and how it impacts life insurance is the best way to get a better rating and lower premiums for the policy you wish to buy.
The underwriter for your application will also need to know how much THC you consume. If you do smoke, you will need to note how many times per week.
What about Medical Marijuana Patients?
If you use medicinal marijuana or cannabis to treat a medical condition, the underwriter needs information about your medical condition. Minor, non-life threatening medical conditions may have no impact at all on how an underwriter assesses your application. More severe medical conditions generally result in stronger ratings.
Infrequent smokers are more likely to get a much better rating than frequent smokers. An infrequent smoker could even qualify for a “Preferred Best – Non-Smoking” rate. The best rate available for most companies. Most other smokers would likely qualify for “Smoker’s” rates which are somewhat more expensive.
How MJ Life Can Help Reduce the Way THC Impacts Life Insurance
How life insurance companies approach THC and how it impacts life insurance is in a continuous state of evolution. A vast majority of the over 850 life insurance companies in America today still take a very conservative approach in how they underwrite THC users.
The good news is that there are a smaller group of life insurers which have a much more lenient approach when it comes to marijuana use. This core of “marijuana friendly” life insurance companies is our specialty.
Whether you use medical marijuana, recreationally or are marijuana business owner, MJ Life Insurance can find the right life insurance solution for your needs. We can also find low cost life insurance for both recreational smokers and medical patients.
Using an independent life insurance agent is the only way to save time and money. As independent agents, we can perform the comparison shopping for you.
The Bottom Line
Here at MJ Life Insurance, we have access to all of the most marijuana friendly life insurance companies in the industry. We will look at the individual situation and needs of each individual who wants coverage and pair you with the best company.
Call us if you have any questions as we will treat any all information you provide in the strictest of confidence. Our agents are happy to help you in any way we can. You can even start your application process today.
We know how THC impacts life insurance so contact MJ Life Insurance today at (888) 987-8447.