Massachusetts to Require CGL and PL Coverage for All “Marijuana Establishments”
In regulations finalized just before the March 15, 2018, deadline, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has included a provision requiring the maintenance of liability insurance or an escrow account to cover potential liabilities. This applies to all Marijuana Establishments, which include marijuana cultivators, craft marijuana cooperatives, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana retailers, independent testing laboratories, marijuana research facilities, marijuana transporters and “any other type of licensed marijuana-related businesses,” except for medical marijuana treatment centers, which are already subject to a comprehensive regulation scheme, including a similar requirement.
Under the new regulations, Marijuana Establishments must obtain and maintain general liability coverage with minimum limits of at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate, and product liability insurance coverage of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate, with a maximum deductible of $5,000 per occurrence. 935 CMR 500.105(10)(a).
In the event that a Marijuana Establishment is unable to obtain the required coverage, upon providing documentation of the unavailability of coverage, the requirement may be met by the deposit of $250,000, or some other amount approved by the CCC, into an escrow account. 935 CMR 500.105(10)(b).
Any new applicant will be required to provide a description of its plan to obtain the required insurance coverage or otherwise meet the requirements of this regulation as part of the application process. 935 CMR 101(c)(5).
This insurance requirement is one of several designed to ensure the financial responsibility of marijuana businesses in the Commonwealth, including a requirement that applicants detail the amounts and sources of capital resources available to them, and a requirement that a license applicant provide documentation of a bond or other resources held in an escrow account in an amount sufficient to adequately support the dismantling and winding down of a Marijuana Establishment pursuant to 935 CMR 500.101(1)(a).
The recreational marijuana business regulations were approved on March 9, 2018, after extensive hearings and public input. The regulations must be signed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and published in the Massachusetts Register, which is expected to take place on March 23, 2018. The regulations become effective upon publication.
Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana via ballot in November 2016. The CCC plans to begin accepting applications on April 1, 2018, and recreational marijuana sales are expected to begin on July 1, 2018. Existing medical marijuana treatment centers have been given priority for licensure in towns and cities where the number of licenses is limited, see MGL c. 94G, § 5(c), and already will have these coverages in place. However, as applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, we would expect to see the number of businesses seeking this coverage only increasing.