Medical marijuana crop insurance: Putting your weed in good hands

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For seventeen years, J.B. Woods, owner of Parker's Greenpoint Insurance Group, has sold policies that cover losses to individuals, families and assorted commercial and business interests.

But it's only been in the past few days that he's been able to offer medical marijuana crop insurance -- and he thinks it's a product whose time has come.

"Don't you want to protect your most valuable assets -- which are the stock and the medicine?" he asks.

"We just rolled it out last Friday, now that there are a couple of insurance companies willing to insure medical marijuana while it's being grown in the pots," says Woods, who's launched a new website at www.MarijuanaDispensaryInsurance.com. "I think that, in the history of crop insurance, it's the first time it's ever been done."

Woods declines to name the specific firms offering this option, saying he doesn't want to provide information his competitors may be able to use against him. But he insists that "they're A-rated companies: very large multinational institutions. One of my carriers in particular probably insures 70 to 80 percent of the dispensaries in California."

What do the policies cover?

"First of all, everything has to be indoors, in a warehouse or an actual dispensary," Woods explains. "And it's going to cover theft, which I think is the biggest issue. This is why all the dispensaries and growers want it. It covers living plant material, harvested plant material and finished stock, the medicine, as well.

"The term we use is perils -- and theft is going to be the number one peril. But they'll also cover fire, lightning, smoke damage, wind storms, hail, vandalism."

And the price?

According to Woods, "It varies by the number of plants we're covering -- but I can tell you this much. At one of my carriers -- probably not the leading carrier -- the minimum cost is about $15,000 to get into the policy. My other carrier, I don't have a price-point yet."

Thus far, there hasn't been a rush among dispensary owners to purchase these policies: Woods has yet to finalize one. However, this weekend, the Denver Post included Woods in a piece about businesses trying to capitalize on the medical marijuana boom, prompting some calls on the subject. He says he's got a meeting with a potential client later today -- and he expects more will follow.

"This is my opinion," he says, "but as these dispensaries and growers get bigger, the cost is going to be insignificant compared to the investment in what they've got under their roof."

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