Thursday, June 8, 2023


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.


Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard
Cheri Sicard is the author 8 published books on topics as diverse as US Citizenship to Cannabis Cooking. Cheri grew up in a circus family and has been RVing on and off her entire life.


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Brian Burry
1 month ago

As a police officer, I handled too many Marijuana driving under the influence, and Marijuana caused driving under the influence accidents. Many do not realize it is dangerous, because people actually drive, thinking they can, yet their time/speed is affected as they think they are driving 25 MPH when they actually are driving 65 MPH. Give them a Field Sobriety Test and they have exaggerated stepping, up 18” to step over a 6” curb. The Eye Convergence Test reveals both eyes look right or left as you bring a pen towards their nose, rather than go cross eyed. THC, the element that causes the “High” in Marijuana, stays in fatty tissues for a long time and this drug creates sad and tragic consequences. I know there are many prescriptions that help most issues that some claim only Marijuana helps. Remember the UC Davis Studies show there are nearly 700 carcinogens in burning Marijuana. The number of tongue cancer & removal are growing exponentially with increased use of Marijuana.

Gregg G.
1 year 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!

1 year ago

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

1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Brian Burry
1 year 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
1 year 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).

Last edited 1 year ago by Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Burry

Thank you Brian for the reminder. Also, cell phone use and/or texting is killing/maiming hundreds-thousands of people in terrible, unnecessary avoidable crashes.

1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Burry

You are right about driving under the influence of anything. For some reason the word “Marijuana” gets people upset. I don’t understand all of the confusion of late. When my mom was dying of cancer in the hospital, in 1982, she was given forms of MEDICAL Marijuana to keep the pain at bay so she could die peacefully as possible. Now decades later it is some sort of big deal to have it prescribed for pain. No you shouldn’t drive when using Marijuana, for any reason. Doctors prescribe a lot of legal pain, anti-anxiety, etc. MEDICAL drugs where you are not allowed to drive while under their influence – drugs used legally by millions I would guess – but if found under the influence while driving will get you arrested just like legal alcohol and legal MEDICAL Marijuana. Doctors prescribe stuff much more harmful or dangerous than Med MJ. I find it nuts that it is not just another regulated prescription drug provided by pharmacies with doctor’s prescription. Not near as harmful as opioids. But you cannot drive if using any of that stuff.

1 month ago
Reply to  KellyR

If one is found with opioids not in a prescription bottle with your name on it, you are in trouble. However if you have your prescription in your bottle, I believe that it would be legal in any state if one were stopped for some reason.

Uncle Swags
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Jim Couillard
1 year 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
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Couillard

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

1 year ago

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

1 year 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
1 year 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.

1 month ago
Reply to  Lindalee

Lindalee, I so feel for you. Those stupid pills turned my brain inside-out and did little for the pain. I chose the pain. And getting off those pills was no fun either. (for the record I do not use Marijuana – I’m just waiting for politicians to catch up with science – HA! wish me good luck on that one!)

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