The Hanover Insurance Group revoked Ann Toney’s, a Denver-based attorney and member of NORML, liability insurance policy solely because many of her clients operate in the medical marijuana industry. The move from Hanover is an unprecedented and potentially landmark case: according to NORML’s Allen St. Pierre, this is the first time an insurance company has ever revoked a lawyer’s policy for this reason.
While mitigating factors may apply, there was no real damning evidence cited for the decision. Hanover simply stated that Toney “does not meet current underwriting guidelines because of the following risk factors: Area of practice involving medical marijuana.”
Now, Toney faces the tedious task of finding a new insurance provider, which, in the meantime, leaves her uninsured and will eventually cost her a pretty penny. And that’s IF she can find a new, willing provider.
It’s a disturbing decision from the insurance company, especially because Toney has, according to the Denver Post, always operated within the state’s legal guidelines.
She said she has always advised clients that marijuana sales remain illegal federally and made sure her clients are in compliance with state medical-marijuana law.
“You represent people under the laws of Colorado,” she said. “What’s the alternative? No one’s going to get any help following the law in Colorado?”
Toney has been practicing law since 1984. In other words, she’s been a lawyer for nearly 30 years, never been disbarred, and seems to run a reputable DUI practice. She’s certainly not some random schmo a week out of law school looking to make a quick buck.
Obviously, the concern becomes what will happen if more insurance companies follow suit and deny lawyers coverage because they work with medical marijuana. Such a shift would certainly avert lawyers from getting involved with medical marijuana cases and, even worse, could prevent dispensary owners from finding good legal counsel.