It’s every patient’s worst nightmare: running out of much-needed prescription in the middle of vacation. In most cases, drugs are non-negotiable. Patients need certain treatments to maintain their health and wellbeing. This applies both at home and when traveling. Fortunately, most patients can pack their pills in their suitcase or visit a local pharmacy if they need a prescription refill at the last minute.
However, patients who use medical marijuana are not guaranteed access to their life-saving medication. With the federal government restricting the transportation of cannabis across state borders, most MMJ patients will have to make a difficult decision among several inconvenient options: violating federal law by taking cannabis products on vacation, foregoing cannabis treatments while traveling, or by themselves choose not to travel at all.
Fortunately, there is another option that many MMJ patients may not know much about: reciprocity. In some states, patients registered elsewhere can access their medical marijuana dispensaries so that patients can legally travel and also enjoy regular treatment. Here are the states that have reciprocity laws that make them ideal vacation spots for MMJ patients.
Arizona offers reciprocity with one caveat: visiting patients must match their qualification requirement in their home state with the same qualification requirement in Arizona. In fact, it means that patients are only allowed to visit medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona if they have a disease that the Arizona program deems cannabis-treatable.
Arkansas makes it extraordinarily easy for visitors to use their MMJ cards to enter medical dispensaries and make purchases in their home state – likely because their neighbor Texas has an aggressively unaffordable medical marijuana program and Arkansas cares for so many Texas patients. Visitors only need to fill out a patient form and provide evidence of non-government MMJ registration for reciprocity.
Technically, there is no reciprocity program in California. However, visitors outside of the state can apply for a California Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) just like residents. The procedure for obtaining an MMIC is the same for out-of-staters as it is for local residents. Therefore, it is usually not worth it unless patients stay in California for an extended period of time.
Hawaii has a similar workaround for reciprocity to California: Visitors can apply for the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Program. People with serious health problems like terminal cancer are in the fast lane, which makes it a little more useful for some visitors to use this service during their trip.
In Maine, holders of an MMJ card outside of the state must enroll in the Maine MMJ program upon entering the state. Visitors who have access to temporary registration that allows them to make purchases at Maine’s medical pharmacies.
Interestingly, Michigan law gives pharmacies the option to choose whether or not to accept MMJ cards outside of the state. Most medical pharmacies do this in order to benefit from a larger consumer base. So it’s safe to say that Michigan is reciprocal.
The Missouri Medical Marijuana Program specifically states that it does not provide reciprocity to non-state MMJ patients – but this is contrary to Missouri’s own law, which states: “You must also have the appropriate equivalent ID or approval from another state or political division of another state meet the requirements of this subdivision. “It is unclear why the state is ordering pharmacies to refuse visitors’ home state MMJ cards when the law is so clearly in favor of reciprocity, and it is unclear whether the practice or the law will change.
The process of reciprocity in Montana is one of the simplest: visitors only need to give their valid MMJ card and ID to budtenders in pharmacies to make legal purchases.
With Nevada receiving so much domestic tourism, the state’s pharmacies will willingly accept all other states’ MMJ cards – with no questions asked.
New Jersey believes that MMJ patients outside of the state are essentially qualified patients in the state of New Jersey – but only for six months. Visitors staying longer must apply for a New Jersey MMJ card, which is permitted.
As in Arkansas, visitors to Oklahoma interested in using MMJ cards outside of the state must first complete a temporary patient application before making any pharmacy purchases. Again, this simple process is likely due to the large number of Texans embarking on better medical cannabis options.
While Pennsylvania does not technically offer reciprocity for adults, the law regarding minors is a little shakier. Visitors under the age of 18 with MMJ access outside of the state can legally have their parents or guardians make purchases from pharmacies – although it is unclear whether pharmacies know or respect this law.
In Utah, visiting MMJ patients can access pharmacies if they have a disease that Utah – just like Arizona – recognizes on its qualification list. In Utah, card-holders can also transport medical marijuana from outside the state, provided they have not been in Utah for more than 45 days. Extended-stay visitors must become residents and apply for the Utah MMJ program.
While technically not a state, the country’s capital recognizes all other states’ MMJ cards. In fact, an MMJ card is the only way to visit a DC pharmacy as recovery laws don’t allow cannabis retail stores.
MMJ patients no longer have to fear travel – as long as they travel to one of the states (or districts) mentioned above. As cannabis regulations improve across the country, reciprocity should expand and medical weeds become even more readily available to those in need.