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Is your medical marijuana card valid when RVing in other states?

“Can I use my medical marijuana card in other states?” is probably the most common cannabis travel question I get from students of my online cannabis courses and visitors to my website and YouTube channel.  I wish the answer was as simple as yes or no. But, sadly, like many issues surrounding marijuana, the answer is far more complicated than that.

That’s because the headlines about marijuana “legalization” are extremely misleading. In reality, neither medical nor recreational marijuana has been legalized at all. It has been regulated. And HEAVILY regulated, at that.

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, not to mention taxes and fees, surrounding both medical and recreational marijuana. To make things even more complicated, cannabis remains completely illegal at the federal level.

That’s a lot for RVing medical marijuana patients who depend on cannabis as medicine to navigate.

Medical marijuana reciprocity

When it comes to whether one state’s medical marijuana card is valid in another, it varies from state to state. And it doesn’t vary a little bit, it varies A LOT.

Some states do offer what is known as “medical marijuana reciprocity,” meaning they will honor another’s medical marijuana program. But even then there are often conditions and strings attached.

For instance, medical marijuana patients visiting Maine can legally use cannabis for the first month that they are there. After that, they are required to register with the state. If you want to access Maine’s dispensaries in order to purchase medical marijuana, you’ll need to register with the state either way.

That’s a common theme among a lot of the states that do have medical marijuana reciprocity. You are allowed to bring your own medical cannabis, but not allowed to buy it in state dispensaries which are restricted to residents only. Go figure.

Last I checked, 12 states offer some form of medical marijuana reciprocity. But the cannabis industry is in its infancy and laws are evolving all the time. Likewise, instead of listing the states here, it’s best to check where you plan to visit before you go.

Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patients’ advocacy group, has prepared a Medical Marijuana Patients Travel Guide that can keep you abreast of changes in medical marijuana reciprocity laws.

More medical marijuana road trip worries

Reciprocity or not, it’s important to note that if you travel to a state where medical marijuana is not legal, your state medical marijuana card will do nothing to help you from a legal perspective.

On a road trip, you need to especially worry about the states you will be crossing through.  In some states, it will be completely illegal to have or be transporting cannabis at all.

Sadly, the internet is filled with horror stories of traveling medical marijuana patients getting into big trouble while passing through illegal states. In fact, police in some states that border legal states (I am looking at you, Kansas and Utah), have been reported to target out-of-state vehicles leaving Colorado looking for marijuana.

That’s because a lot of law enforcement agencies get a lot of “drug war” funding from the federal government and cannabis users are low-hanging fruit who normally don’t fight back.

Furthermore, when you consider that all marijuana is federally illegal, crossing state lines with it is always technically illegal.

I have had people argue this point with me, insisting their state has complete reciprocity with another neighboring legal state and it is perfectly OK and legal for them to be driving with it between the two. These naïve folks are wrong.

There is no federal exemption that says you can travel from one state to another with marijuana. I checked with several prominent cannabis attorneys and they all concur.

Now, that’s not to say that the feds are actually out there on the highways busting road-tripping medical marijuana patients. Thankfully, I have not heard of that in years. State and local law enforcement agencies, yes, that unfortunately still happens. Feds no. But they legally could. And this article is meant to inform you about the law, not pass judgment on its absurdities.

If there’s interest in the topic, we’ll do follow-up articles on your rights as a traveling cannabis consumer, as well as how to keep your cannabis use private and discreet when on the road. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, please.

##RVT1037

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Gregg G.
3 months ago

Thank you for the article; do please keep them coming. My wife and I both have medical recommendations and try to be discrete and responsible, but do run into a lot of old thinking from some folks.
Discussions/articles like this do a lot of good helping to inform both sides and help the non-consumer to better understand the issues. Keep up the good work!

don
3 months ago

Thanks for tackling this subject. It is pretty hard to walk thru any campground today and not smell second-hand pot smoke.

Julie
3 months ago

Definitely interested as someone who used marijuana for anxiety in learning more about how I can do that safely and legally as I travel the country.

Richard Hulkenberg
3 months ago

Thank you for a very interesting article. Hopefully this will all get sorted out sooner than later.

Brian Burry
3 months ago

Many may not have seen first hand the effects of people driving under-the-influence of Marijuana, as those of us in law enforcement have, at terrible accidents. Perhaps it may benefit some, but if they drive while using it, it is so very dangerous. Not judging, just informing. Respectfully,

Cheri Sicard
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Burry

Respectfullly, NOBODY was suggesting you drive stoned any more than they suggested you drive drunk, which is FAR more dangerous by every barometer. I mean really? Where did I ever say you should drive while impaired? Did anyone suggest we drive impaired, cause if they did I sure missed it? That would be really a dumb thing to do.

But on that line, should we outlaw alcohol too? Oh yeah, we tried that. It did not work any better than cannabis prohibition has.

The other thing you need to realize is that crash and highway stats are extremely inaccurate in that anyone with cannabis in their system is counted in those stats. The problem is, cannabis stays in the system for 6 weeks or so, even though the high only lasts an hour or two. Likewise, its mere presence in a blood test, which is counted in each and every highway stat regardless of the actual reason for the accident or the reason the person sought medical attention, is not necessarily an indicator of impairment or cause. It’s possible the person being tested had not used cannabis in weeks, yet they are still counted as a cannabis related road accident when it comes time to tally up those statistics.

Also prior to legalization, it was not tested for at all, so of course if everyone who seeks medical attention for an accident, regardless of cause, is tested, of course there is going to be an uptick.

Again I am in no way advocating for impaired driving. But we need a little honesty in the reporting about it. And our attitudes about cannabis in general. Because currently the fear mongering stats we read about stoned driving are meaningless and meant to mislead and scare the public. And by your logic, nobody should ever use alcohol or prescription drugs, or even some over the counter drugs, because the individual might be irresponsible and drive impaired?

For anyone interested in the truth about marijuana legalization and stoned driving, there is some great factual sources and study links on this topic on the NORML website (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws).

https://norml.org/?s=driving

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheri Sicard
Uncle Swags
3 months ago

Amazing that we are still dealing with this “non-issue” after 80 years of bad legislation. And be careful on I-40 in Texas (the 1-800-GOT BUSTED billboards says it all) and Idaho. Good article and applicable to recreational side of the business as well.

David Stansbury
3 months ago

Please keep us up to date. Thanks for the info.

Jim Couillard
3 months ago

Though recreational cannabis use is legal in Michigan, possession or use in our National Parks is not. Law enforcement Rangers have been known to ticket cannabis users at Sleeping Bear National Shoreline, for example.

Cheri Sicard
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Couillard

Excellent point Jim. If you are on federal land anywhere, then cannabis use is definitely not legal.

Catherine
3 months ago

Very interesting article. I hope to see more like this in the future. Thanks

Lindalee
3 months ago
Reply to  Catherine

Me, too, Catherine! Cheri, it is a GREAT article and I hope you keep us updated. I suffer from either Chronic Pain OR Fibromyalgia (the docs can’t decide which 🙁 and being able to use Marijuana instead of the opiates that I now use would be just fantastic! And, here is the BIG BUT, I live in Texas :-(.

Cheri Sicard
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindalee

There are a lot of great activists in Texas, working very hard to make it happen. Texas NORML for instance, has active chapters in several cities.