FEB 25, 2020 7:58 AM PST

State to State: Reciprocity for Marijuana Cards Proves Challenging

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

When a person receives a medical marijuana card, are they good to go, anywhere in the U.S.? No -- it turns out, it can be hard to access medical cannabis outside of a home state, even in places where it is legal. 

While 33 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands now have a comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana program, reciprocity is proving harder to establish. Reciprocity allows a state-issued cannabis license to be accepted in other states. Only seven of these locations currently practice reciprocity, according to High Times, and they do so to varying degrees. Arkansas, Hawaii, Missouri, Rhode Island, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico and D.C. accept medical cards from legal states.

Several roadblocks can keep patients from using the reciprocity agreements that now exist. A qualifying condition in one state may not be valid in another. Some states require paperwork and/or fees for an out-of-state card-carrier to obtain medical cannabis. For a patient who lacks the necessary financial resources or who is on a short stay in another state, these rules can be prohibitive.

For example, Oklahoma completed its first year of legalization in September 2019 and has in the range of 200,000 medical cannabis patients. A temporary license for an out-of-state patient must be applied for a month in advance and costs $100. 

“I know of one person who tried it, but she was gone before the weekend was out so she didn’t get to use it,” Norma Sapp, Oklahoma state director for the marijuana advocacy group NORML, said. This was the only case she is aware of in which an out-of-state patient tried to get a temporary Oklahoma license. A person with a medical cannabis card for anxiety would also be out of luck in Oklahoma, where anxiety is not considered a qualifying condition. As state cannabis regulations across the country continue to progress and evolve while federal progress stymies, reciprocity is yet another area that is proving complicated.


 

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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