As medical and recreational use are being legalized in states across the country, it feels like so much about cannabis consumption is changing quickly. Some things, however, are still the same as they’ve ever been. For instance, you still aren’t supposed to cross state lines with weed—even if you got it legally with your medical card. Here’s what else to know about the laws around your cannabis use.
Does your medical card work in other states?
The answer to whether you can use the card issued in your home state to buy cannabis in another state depends on where you’re trying to buy it. The term to keep in mind here is medical cannabis “reciprocity.” Before gassing up the tank and heading to another state, always look up whether that state has medical reciprocity.
Veriheal has compiled a list of states that allow for this reciprocity: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, and Washington.
See your destination on the list? Not so fast—each of these states has its own set of rules about the reciprocity. New Jersey, for example, recognizes all other states’ medical weed cards and allows people to use them in the state for up to six months while visiting. Arizona, on the other hand, has more limited reciprocity, only providing it for visitors with qualifying conditions that meet the card-carrying criteria for the state. California doesn’t accept out-of-state cards, but it doesn’t matter because recreational weed is legal and available there. In Nevada, where cannabis has been legal for about four years, the reciprocity also no longer matters, but back when only medical cannabis was legal in the state, Nevada had reciprocity with all the other states, too. The states each have their own rules about how much you’re allowed to possess, too.
You see how complicated it is already. Look up the individual laws for your destination so you don’t waste time or money—or end up without your weed.
Also be aware that in most cases, you can’t apply for a medical card in a state where you don’t actually live. Hawaii does allow out-of-staters to apply for their program, and it doesn’t have reciprocity.
Can you cross state lines with medical weed?
You can learn all you need to know about the laws in the state where you’re going and—if all goes according to plan—pick up some cannabis thanks to reciprocity, but what happens when you’re on your way back home?
Here’s the second thing you need to keep in mind: The federal government still classifies all cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. It’s a federal crime to transport cannabis—even medical cannabis—across state lines. You could be charged with drug trafficking.
Read that again: You could be. Will you be? Maybe not. In 2019, the New York Times spoke to a traveler who was told by a Transportation Security Administration agent who found the medical THC tincture she had in her carry-on that he was required to report her to the police, but wasn’t going to.
The TSA has made it clear in recent years that their officers are not looking for drugs in carry-on bags and plenty has been written about how to sneak it past them, but it’s important that you know that all it takes is for your weed to be found by the wrong agent on the wrong day for this to go very badly for you. At best, you’ll have to show your card to get your stuff back. At worst, you could actually face severe punishment.
Cannabis is also not allowed on some airlines, either, including Delta and American, even if you have a card. Amtrak also has a no-weed policy that extends to medical cannabis. As for driving, don’t do it under the influence. Follow all the safety measures you used to take in the days before the spread of legality. Lock your goods in the trunk, for starters, and know your rights. Officers can search your car and your glove box, but not your trunk.
Ask yourself, after reading this, whether all this hassle is worth it to transport cannabis back home with you. If you have a card in your home state, use that first and foremost.
Finally, some resources. Here’s the list of reciprocity states again, but do your own thorough research into your destination before you go. Here’s our existing article on how to choose and procure the right kind of medical cannabis. And here’s a handy, interactive map of legal weed in America. You might have fun with it, especially after partaking of some legally-procured goods.