Cannabis Coverage Litigation: Where’s it Going?

While we may be in the final days, months, or years of it, the use and possession of cannabis remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  So do the complications.

Some states allow its use for medical purposes, others have made it legal for recreational purposes, and others have decriminalized it. But when cannabis is involved in disputes that lead to litigation, and that litigation leads to policyholder vs. insurer disputes, that state law patchwork and the illegality of cannabis under federal law is when things get complicated. This tension plays out in several other aspects of running a cannabis business, such as banking and interstate transportation of goods.

My guests co-wrote an article for the Journal on Emerging Issues in Litigation, titled “Taking the High Ground: Where Cannabis Insurance Litigation Is Trending (and Why).” They write that it is up to litigators to frame their cases in ways that will determine the outcome of important disputes over insurance coverage. Read the article

They are John B. McDonald an experienced litigator practicing in the Seattle and New York offices of Harris Bricken, where he represents clients in complex commercial, insurance, and partnership matters. And, Jihee Ahn, also an experienced complex commercial litigator with Harris Bricken, and chair of the firm’s Dispute Resolution/Litigation practice group. Their partner, Hilary Bricken, years ago founded the outstanding Canna Law Blog, a tremendous resource. Hilary and Harris Bricken co-founder Dan Harris are on the Editorial Board of Advisors for the Journal on Emerging Issues in Litigation and this podcast.

Speaking of which, this podcast is the audio companion to the Journal on Emerging Issues in Litigation. The Journal  is a collaborative project produced by HB Litigation Conferences and the Fastcase legal research family, which includes Full Court PressLaw Street Media, and Docket Alarm. The podcast itself is a joint effort between HB and our friends at Law Street Media. If you have comments or wish to participate in one our projects, or want to tell me how much you learned today – or if you’d like a copy of John’s and Jihee’s article — please drop me a note at

p.s. If you know why we call it “recreational” cannabis use but “social” drinking, please write to me. It’s literally keeping me up at night. So is my uncontrolled sarcasm.