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Insurance Could Prove Another Hurdle For Marijuana Biz

In November, Nevada voters will decide if recreational marijuana should be legal in the state. 

Meanwhile, several licensed medical marijuana facilities already operate in Las Vegas. Three of those are owned by Terra Tech Corp.

Terra Tech is a publicly-traded agriculture company with a total of eight medical marijuana businesses in Nevada. 

Recently, the company's CEO, Derek Peterson, was denied an application for life insurance not because he uses marijuana, he said, but because of his association with the industry. 

“I always thought there would be a potential risk to be denied for the insurance on an actuarial stand point for using cannabis but never - for the life of me - would have thought I would have been denied just for my association with the industry,” Peterson said.

Now, he's worried about being able to provide this insurance for his employees. Add the insurance issue to a growing list of challenges with financial services marijuana businesses are running into. 

“It’s been very difficult for the industry at large to get basic financial services,” he said.

Peterson said marijuana businesses also struggle to get retirement plans and healthcare insurance for employees. They also often can't find companies that will write business insurance policies.

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It is difficult, he explained, because what he offers his employees in Northern California is different than what he can offer his employees in Nevada.

The industry is trying to work with lawmakers on every level to fix some of these issues.

“Now that we’re in the thick of it and operating there are a lot of things we want to see changed in terms of regulation both at the state level but also at the city,” he said.

Peterson said marijuana is a business that makes money, and they want to continue to do that. However, they need to provide appropriate benefits for employees and some regulations will have to change to make that happen.

“We’re doing our best to be good stewards and good economic providers in these local municipalities but we want some semblance of protection so we can continue to operate in that manner," he said. 

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Derek Peterson, CEO, Terra Tech Corp. 

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