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Using Medical Marijuana as an Out-Of-State Visitor


You are a medical marijuana user planning to visit family in another state. You are concerned because you have had trouble in the past filling prescriptions in that state. Now you wonder if you’ll still be able to use medical marijuana on your trip. The answer depends on the laws of the state you plan to visit.

Medical marijuana is addressed on a state-by-state basis. To date, thirty-six states and the District of Columbia recognize cannabis as a viable medicine. More than a dozen of them also allow recreational use. This is the starting point for understanding whether or not you can use medical marijuana as an out-of-state visitor.

The Reciprocity Question

Using medical marijuana as an out-of-state visitor is sometimes a matter of reciprocity. States practice reciprocity in a lot of different areas, like driver’s licenses for example. A valid driver’s license in one state is recognized by every other state in the union. This is extremely helpful in that you do not have to apply for a new driver’s license every time you cross state lines.

In terms of medical marijuana, reciprocity is rare. There are only a handful of states that unconditionally recognize medical cannabis cards from other states. Among them are Nevada and Montana. In New Hampshire, reciprocity exists for out-of-state patients whose qualifying condition are also on the New Hampshire list.

Other states practice limited reciprocity. Still others completely close down medical marijuana to all but their own residents. They are in a rather small minority.

Limited Reciprocity Explained

Limited reciprocity is essentially conditional reciprocity. Beehive Farmacy is a Utah dispensary with locations in Salt Lake City and Brigham City. They say Utah offers limited reciprocity to out-of-state visitors. To take advantage of that reciprocity, you must already have a valid medical cannabis card from your state of residence.

To use medical marijuana in Utah, you have to apply for an out-of-state resident card. You do so by logging on to the state’s EVS system, opening an account, providing the necessary information, and uploading a digital copy of your current card.

An out-of-state resident card is good for only 21 days. Utah regulations also stipulate that visitors can only obtain two cards annually. They can be obtained back-to-back or for separate visits. Note that it takes time to get an out-of-state card. You cannot wait until the last minute before applying.

Application for a Utah out-of-state resident card only takes minutes to complete. However, the application has to be reviewed and approved by a state regulator before you can get your card. At the current time, out-of-state applications are only reviewed on a weekly basis. Visitors should plan on at least a week to 10 days to actually receive an out-of-state visitor card. Incidentally, the application includes a place to enter your dates of travel. This is to help the state make sure they issue you card at the right time.

States with Recreational Use

You might also be interested to know that there are states that do not practice reciprocity but still allow recreational use. California and Colorado are two examples. Even though the two states will not recognize medical cannabis cards from other states, adults visiting from elsewhere are free to purchase as recreational users but still use their products medically.

If you are a medical cannabis user planning to travel to another state, you may or may not be able to legally use your medication during your travels. Check with the destination state’s medical cannabis regulator. States that do not allow medical marijuana at all are automatically off the table.