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The Need for Federal Reciprocity for Medical Marijuana Card Holders

One of the things that we’re going to continually discuss on Rolld is the steps that the federal government should take to make things more consistent for medical marijuana patients, as well as answer a lot of the gray area questions that medical card holders often run into.

As we know, most if not all cannabis acquisition legislation is done at the state level. Licenses for growers, distributors, and dispensaries are all typically issued by the state. The same goes with the actual rules regarding the issuing of medicinal marijuana cards. Some states have different restrictions on who qualifies for medical marijuana treatment and because of that, a card issued by a doctor in one state may not be valid in another. This leads us to question what the hell even is reciprocity? How can the federal government issue reciprocity at the federal level to achieve a more cohesive way for cannabis patients to get the care that they need?

What is Reciprocity?

The concept of reciprocity simply means that your privileges issued in one place (in this case your medical card in your home state) carry to other places with similar laws. This would mean someone with a medical card from Maryland could get medicinal product in Arizona, or someone with a Michigan card could get medical product in Nevada.

The other aspect of reciprocity that is important is that some states with recreational laws in place still will not take an out-of-state medical card since it was not prescribed as part of that state’s program. I was on a trip to California and my Washington, D.C. card would not carry there. Thus, I was limited to the recreational product menu, as well as the gram/limit amounts that recreational states have in place.

Typically, those amounts are half or significantly lower than what medical patients are allowed to have. Further, many states limit the THC content amount on edibles for recreational use. In Las Vegas for example, max dose I could find for edibles was 100mg while the medicinal menu had 500mg chocolate bars and more.

Is Medical Marijuana Card Reciprocity Necessary?

Some might be thinking, what’s the big deal? I can just get my flower and carts in my home state and travel to where I am going. Or, I don’t purchase my medicine in any other state, how does this relate to me? Or even, who the hell needs a 500mg edible? That would put me in a stupor I would never wake up from.

There are a couple major issues with how things are currently setup. First and foremost, it’s not legal to carry over the state lines in which you purchased your funk. If you are a medical card holder in D.C. and bring your stuff to West Virginia, you may find yourself sharing a jail cell with Jim Bob or some dude with two first names who’s married to his cousin. Second, for medical card holders and patients who travel frequently for their job, family, or just because they want to face a major hurdle of where to get their medicine when they get to their destination.

This leads to that sketchy gray area no one wants to talk about. Patients are left with hitting the underground scene like back in the old days, trying to buy mediocre flower from a random dude in a Mexican restaurant in Miami. Everyone cringes at the sketch factor and for patients who already have incredibly high anxiety at times, this experience is an absolute nightmare. Not to mention the products are most likely not lab tested and there’s no way of confidently knowing what’s in the product. The other option is to bring that shit with you and risk it through security. As discussed above, this is a huge risk and we don’t recommend this, but what other options are out there to patients?

The Federal Government Should Step In

The federal government could and should put into effect reciprocity for medical card holders across the United States. This is an easy first step that they can make to truly take care of the patients they are typically advocating against. It will reduce the number of underground transactions that occur and the potential issues that come with it, along with giving patients the peace of mind they need when traveling outside of their home state. Understandably, some states will push back and will not allow this type of sweeping measure to occur, especially considering the amount of power the states hold as it pertains to cannabis regulation. Some states, particularly those with recreational laws in place already, should be more amicable to a measure such as this and having the framework in place for more sweeping legislation down the line is never a bad thing, especially as public opinion changes.

In addition, the Federal Government could have some say in a more uniform standard of care that should be given to people pursuing or thinking about pursuing a medical marijuana card. This would provide some guidance on new states prescribing medical cards, as well as give providers a clearer idea of expectations and guidelines for issuing medicinal cards. Below is a list of states that currently provide medical marijuana card reciprocity:

  • Arkansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan (up to the dispensary)
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire *if matching qualifying conditions
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Utah *if matching qualifying condition
  • Washington, DC

For more information and a very well written article surrounding the specific rules and regulations visit: https://leafwell.co/blog/states-medical-marijuana-card-reciprocity/ Keep in mind these laws are always changing as new legislation is passed.

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