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Friday August 10, 2018

By Abby Hutmacher


As of this writing, nine states plus Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of cannabis: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The spread of adult-use cannabis has increased the appeal of marijuana tourism in legal states but does not cover the extent of cannabis tourism in America. In fact, thanks to state reciprocity laws, many medical marijuana states also allow cardholding visitors to purchase and/or own cannabis on their own turf.

Of course, like all cannabis law, the details of medical marijuana reciprocity vary by state, so if access to legal cannabis is important to you, you must understand where you’re going and what the law will allow you to do when you get there.

What is Medical Cannabis Reciprocity?

The term “reciprocity” means the reciprocal exchange of goods, services, or privileges. When it comes to medical cannabis, many states allow reciprocity for visiting medical marijuana patients provided they have the appropriate documentation to prove it. This means that people with a medical need for cannabis can visit even more states without giving up their meds or risking legal complications for not doing so. It does not mean, however, that they can go anywhere with medical marijuana, nor does it mean that out-of-towners get to follow the same set of rules as locals. Here’s what you need to know about states with medical marijuana reciprocity laws so you can plan your next cannabis vacation without a hitch.


Arizona’s medical marijuana reciprocity laws do not allow visitors to purchase cannabis from dispensaries. It does, however, allow medical patients to possess their own product – up to 2.5 ounces, to be exact – without risking confiscation or fines.


While California does not have a dedicated reciprocity program for patients with out-of-state medical marijuana cards, they do allow out-of-state visitors to apply for a California medical cannabis card to make legal purchases from medicinal dispensaries.


Beginning in 2019, Hawaii’s reciprocity program will go into effect, making it legal for medical cannabis patients from any U.S. state to purchase medical marijuana in Hawaii. Patients who bring their medical cards from their home state with them can purchase a medical cannabis registration card that will allow them to make purchase from licensed Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries.


Medical marijuana patients from out-of-state are legally allowed to consume medical cannabis for up to 30 days after entering the state. However, qualifying patients are not allowed to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary – unless they register with the state of Maine.

Budtender Helping Customer
Anyone with qualifying conditions can apply for a MMJ card in Maine.

Though Maine requires specific paperwork to be considered for their medical marijuana program, anyone can qualify if they have the appropriate forms filled out by their doctor, provide the proper medical marijuana certification and show a valid photo ID. Ownership of the proper paperwork allows visitors and residents alike to possess, use and purchase medical cannabis legally in the state.


Michigan treats medical marijuana visitors the same way they treat locals; possession of up to 2.5 ounces is legal in the state as is consumption *if* consumption is kept low-key. Public consumption is strictly prohibited, and the state takes this very seriously so keep it under wraps if you’re planning a 420-friendly vacation in Michigan. You might be able to purchase medical cannabis from a dispensary with an out-of-state card, but it is up to the shop so be sure to call around before visiting.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana laws allow out-of-state visitors with their medical card to possess up to two ounces of cannabis at a time. However, they do not allow visitors to legally purchase cannabis in the state. Out-of-state medical cards are also only valid if they are intended to treat one of New Hampshire’s qualifying medical conditions.


Nevada legalized the recreational sale of cannabis last year which comes with a tax rate of up to 38 percent in some areas. Fortunately, medical marijuana patients, even those from out-of-state, can use their medical marijuana registration card to save around 10 percent on cannabis tax.

Rhode Island

The medical state of Rhode Island accepts out-of-state medical cannabis registration cards but does not allow visitors to purchase cannabis products from state-licensed facilities. Some locations may accept out-of-state medical registration cards, however, so we recommend calling ahead to confirm before visiting a local Rhode Island dispensary.

Puerto Rico

The US territory of Puerto Rico has an emerging medical cannabis industry that is welcoming to visiting tourists who possess valid medical marijuana cards from their home states. Puerto Rico allows medical cannabis reciprocity and sales to any registered U.S. patient.

Final Thoughts

Medical marijuana helps millions of people live happy, healthy lives, but their need for medical cannabis should not limit them to medicating only in their home states. For medical patients who want to travel without compromising their comfort, many states will accept their out-of-state medical certification through various reciprocity programs. Before setting out on your next weed adventure, check with local laws to learn more about what you can and can’t do under medical marijuana reciprocity laws in your next destination.

What’s your favorite place to visit for a weed vacation and why?

Photo Credit: Joey Csunyo (license)


Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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