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There are risks associated with recreational dagga, SA company says

People who drive under the influence of marijuana double their risk of being in a car crash and one in 10 daily marijuana users become dependent on the drug, writes Ernest Mabuza for Times Live in South Africa. This is what is known so far regarding risks associated with recreational marijuana use, says PPS, a company that provides insurance for professionals.

The company was commenting on how the use of marijuana could affect people’s insurance.

The Constitutional Court ruled last year that the private cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis was legal.

PPS chief underwriter John Kennedy said as access to marijuana increased internationally, the effects of the drug would be a great topic of interest to the insurance industry.

But evidence was still inconclusive regarding the health risks and potential benefits of smoking marijuana.

“On one hand, no deaths have been reported due to an acute marijuana poisoning, and no studies have clearly documented an increased mortality from the use of the drug.

“On the other hand, there's no consensus among qualified experts that marijuana is safe and effective for use in treating a specific, recognised disorder,” Kennedy said.

He said further studies would be necessary to reach a definitive conclusion on the long-term health and mortality impacts of marijuana consumption.

Kennedy said the insurance industry must carefully consider the underwriting implications of more widespread marijuana use.

“The key underwriting considerations will include the frequency, purpose, and admission of use, as well as the type of marijuana used, the applicant’s age, history of accidents, risky behaviour, and other substance abuse.”

He said that given the many different forms of marijuana, such as vaporisers and oils, an underwriter needed to be able to quantify not only the dosage but the strength of the substance involved.

Kennedy said for now, PPS would not make any changes to its existing underwriting policy for recreational marijuana use.

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