Even though pot use, medical or otherwise, remains illegal in the majority of America, many mainstream insurance companies actually have specific yet modifiable "cannabis criteria" according to fascinating new research released by LifeHealthPro. While insurers project an image of being conservative and strait-laced, they seem to be open-minded enough to distinguish pot from hard drugs like cocaine, a positive test for which can lead to refusal of coverage. Such is not always the case with pot. Though stoners aren't entirely off the hook, they can still be charged higher rates charged (liike cigarette smokers) and even pay as much as those with serious health problems.

Fortune 500 insurer Mutual of Omaha is surprisingly lenient when it comes to pot: If a client uses it weekly or less, he's charged the standard non-smoker's rate. But if testing indicates he tokes more than one day a week, he's assigned to the smoker's class. With Transamerica, if you get high at all, you pay smoker's rates. Other insurers have more complex parameters. MetLife allows those who use "occasionally" -- once a week to once a month -- to receive a kind of "preferred-plus non-smoker rating"; more than once a week is an automatic smoker's rate, while daily use results in a "table-4 rating," which means the pot user is classified with those who have diabetes, cancer, and AIDS -- those having a substandard health situation. "Heavy users" can be outright denied benefits by MetLife, while Prudential Financial declines coverage to any client who uses four times or more weekly.

No company gets as complicated as North American. Clients over 25 years old using pot 3-8 times a month could get standard smoker's rates; but 8-16 times likely gets you rated a table-2 smoker. Getting stoned more than 16 times a month disqualifies one from coverage altogether. But how in the hell does North American or the client accurately keep track of all that and precisely determine if someone smoked 15 times or 16 times in a month? Here's the bottom line on the bottom line: As some life insurance companies are willing to cover pot users, why not check out the alternatives to ascertain if you can receive a better rate? You'll  have more money left to spend on better things -- like pot!