Massachusetts legalized medical cannabis in 2012 and adult use cannabis in 2016. As of now, there are 547 licensed cannabis businesses and counting. Mark Sawyer, Senior Vice President of Corcoran & Havlin Insurance, was one of the first cannabis insurance brokers in Massachusetts. We asked Mark to share some of his experiences in one of the fastest growing markets.
When and why did you decide to enter the MA Cannabis industry?
In 2012 when Medical Use first became legal in MA, my associate Tom Fitzgerald (since retired) and I decided that our strong backgrounds in Life Science, R&D, Non Profits and Start-ups was a natural fit for the new ‘Green Industry’. Both Tom and I thought this space was completely unique and in need of high level risk and insurance product services. Our office was the first in MA to commit fully to a dedicated cannabis practice and I was very lucky to have the support from the owners of Cross Insurance. I feel we have a lot in common with Cannasure in that we both really got out in front to serve the cannabis space when no one else really did.
Share a few unexpected outcomes that have occurred in the cannabis industry, good or bad.
Some of the recent ‘bad’ issues were related to the vape ban and Covid19 shutdowns. The vape ban in MA was very difficult for operators and in many peoples’ opinion, a gross overreaction by the MA governor to shutdown legal vape products. The vape issue in MA is still not resolved with many inventories still excluded from sale. Covid19 shutdowns were also a negative impact. It’s hard to rationalize that liquor sales were essential and legal retail cannabis was not.
On the ‘good’ side, the many difficulties and road blocks facing operators have not dissuaded them from their mission. I see smart and savvy business people working hard every day to make a dream come true in the cannabis space. It’s a privilege for me to be a part of this excitement and energy in helping to build a new market segment.
Any advice that you’d like to share with other agents?
It’s a very hard space to make a niche or practice in at this time. There are just a few people like me who got in early and learned as much as they could about the insurance products, the cannabis industry and the law. I would suggest that as new states open up for cannabis, agents in those states can utilize Cannasure to assist these new clients as they start-up and grow.
My advice to agents is: commit to the space, learn more than you need to, read and understand the coverage forms and conditions. Then go out and meet everyone working in or around the cannabis space that you can. Having a partner resource such as Cannasure will make the job dramatically better, for agents and their clients.