Do States Recognize Out of State Medical Marijuana Cards?

Those who have a medical cannabis authorization from any the 31 states,  might wonder if their license will be honored anywhere in the US.  This can be a tenuous moment for someone treating a serious medical need, and a question that can be difficult to obtain a clear answer to without knowing where to go.

If you use CBD, it’s relieving to know that most states have at least a medical CBD or low THC program. However, CBD bought online or that have operated in non-regulated sectors of distribution is highly variable in product quality or consistency and not all states have quality sources of products established yet.

Only four states have no public marijuana access program: Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.


Medical cannabis programs have reciprocity rules. Reciprocity is the term for the rules concerning if & howa medical cannabis patient status transfers to another state. These rules are always evolving, as efforts to shape the existing ones have been nearly perpetually ongoing.

For example, if you were approved for medical cannabis use in New Jersey and travel to Hawaii, can you buy cannabis in a dispensary? Can you possess? If you were to be fined for possession, would your medical exemption qualify?

In this example, medical status would be recognized if you applied as an Out of State Patient. Medical cannabis could be purchased. So long the legal possession limit was observed, there would be no conflict with law enforcement concerning possession. However, nuances exist from state to state.

In some states of jurisdictions (Washington, DC), reciprocity is only acknowledged from certain states, and not others. This largely impacts whether or not a patient can walk into a dispensary and purchase.

Can I consume?

In general, yes.

Most states say that if you have a medical card you can use your cannabis. Possession limits are standard, usually around 2.5 ounces of flower at a given time. Some legal zones, like DC and Arkansas, have intervals attached to possession limits. In DC, a medical patient can have 4 ounces of flower every 30 days.

Can I Purchase?

Check out if your destination state accepts your medical status. It varies based on both factors.

  1. Arizona, purchases at dispensaries are not allowed.
  2. Arkansas, purchases are allowed for “Visiting Qualified Patients”
  3. Washington DC, purchases are allowed from residents of certain states.
  4. New Hampshire, purchases are not allowed.
  5. Oklahoma, purchases are allowed.
  6. Pennsylvania, allows out of state purchases under narrow circumstances.
  7. Rhode Island,allows for 21 out of the 40 states that have programs that track sales.

In adult use states, it is exactly as it sounds: an adult over the legal age limit (21) can walk into a dispensary and acquire their cannabis. For child medical patients access is dependent on the state-to-state interpretation of the medical approval.

Can I bring my own?

Until Cannabis is off of the Controlled Substances act, travelling across state borders is illegal and risky.

Another part of the reason is that despite California’s potential to be a $7 billion industry and the sales in October 2018 was $538.5 million in AZ, CA, CO, OR and WA, air lines haven’t drawn policies that may conflict with either Federal or State laws.

Medical patients will have it much easier in 2019 than previous years. The removal of low-THC cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act will greatly expand the penetration of CBD into states that have even very limited medical cannabis programs.

By Ryan Duffy

Ryan Duffy is a freelance writer. You can contact him on LinkedIn.