Mich. Senators Seek PIP Medical Marijuana Exclusion

A bill in the Michigan Senate would bar state residents who are injured in auto accidents from using their personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to pay for medical marijuana to treat pain resulting from those accidents.

“I don’t want my constituents’ insurance rates to go up to cover individuals using medical marijuana,” Sen. Rick Jones—the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee—said in a statement Wednesday. “I wanted to act quickly on this important measure and close this loophole in state law.”

Michigan’s no-fault auto coverage system has been the subject of heated debate recently, with critics saying the state mandate that insurers provide unlimited medical coverage for accident victims who suffer catastrophic injuries unfairly burdens coverage providers and drives up premiums for motorists statewide.

Jones’ proposed legislation appears to be the only bill that focuses on medical marijuana’s effects on car insurance coverage in the state.

The bill, which was approved unanimously by Jones’ committee, would amend existing state law to make clear that PIP auto insurance in Michigan cannot be used to pay for medical marijuana.

Michigan is the only state to require that insurers cover up to a lifetime of medical and rehabilitative care for vehicle accident victims who suffer traumatic brain injuries and other serious harm.

Motorists throughout the state pay into a catastrophic claims fund that helps pay for claims of more than a half-million dollars. In return, crash-related health care costs for policyholders are covered for up to a lifetime.

The bill is one of several pieces of legislation that would tighten restrictions on the use of medical marijuana, which was approved by the state’s voters in 2008.

Earlier this week, Jones announced that he is working on a bill he says would prevent out-of-state marijuana growers from producing crops in Michigan for sale in other states.

Jones said he aims to solve the problem by requiring that people live in Michigan for at least one year before becoming eligible for a state medical marijuana card.

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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