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Moving to a new state is often challenging but can be harder still for medical marijuana patients. You can’t simply transfer an existing medical marijuana card to a new state’s program.
Due to the individual requirements of different states’ medical marijuana programs, patients will ultimately need to reapply for a medical marijuana card in their new location. This includes re-completing the state application, proving your residency with state identification (as required), and receiving a recommendation from a state-licensed physician.
Some states, however, offer temporary medical marijuana reciprocity, meaning they will accept valid medical cannabis cards from another state while you finalize your residency in your new home. Doing some homework and preparing can make the process much smoother to minimize any interruptions in access to your medicine.
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Is a Medical Card Valid If You Move to a New State?
When you move to a new state, it’s essential to understand the two tiers of legalized cannabis programs: medical and recreational (adult use). In recreationally legalized states, most will only confirm your age on your ID before allowing you to purchase cannabis. Most states, however, have different tax rates or possession/purchase limits for medicinal users compared to recreational users.
The process is a little more challenging if you’re looking for medical marijuana. A handful of states recognize out-of-state medical marijuana cards outright or allow some form of reciprocity, meaning you can use your existing card to purchase cannabis for a set amount of time. Reciprocity typically recognizes out-of-state medical marijuana cards for one to six months.
How to Get Approved for Medical Marijuana in a New State
Once you’ve moved to a new state, you’ll likely need to provide proof of residency to apply for your medical cannabis card. The easiest way is to provide a driver’s license or state ID. Some states (but not all) allow out-of-state IDs to be used with proof of residency. For the quickest and easiest approval, update your driver’s license and any other identifying documents that the application process requires, such as a state ID card.
While it’s tempting to put off a trip to the DMV, the sooner you make your address change official, the sooner you can apply for access to medical cannabis. If you’re living in a state without a reciprocity program, you’ll need to provide proof of your new address to become a registered patient.
Once you’ve got your necessary ID, you’ll need to get a new recommendation from an in-state doctor who can confirm your diagnosis. With Leafwell, we also provide a step-by-step guide to your new state to help avoid any challenges in receiving a new card.
Some programs require you to provide medical records, while others don’t. You may also need to establish a relationship with your qualifying physician to qualify via telehealth.
When Can You Use a Medical Card in Another State?
Just because you have a medical marijuana card doesn’t mean you can automatically purchase cannabis at a dispensary in a state where it is legal. If there’s a recreational program, you can buy products if you’re of age (21 years or older), but it may make sense to apply for one after you’ve moved to take advantage of tax breaks and higher possession/purchase limits depending on the state.
However, if you’ve moved to a state with reciprocity laws, you can purchase medical marijuana while working on your in-state application. The following states have reciprocity programs, though the specific rules vary depending on each region.
Arizona allows individuals to qualify as a “visiting qualifying patient” if they hold an out-of-state medical marijuana card, live outside of Arizona, or moved there within the last 30 days. The person’s qualifying condition in their home state must be on Arizona’s criteria list for their card to be accepted.
Those with a medical marijuana recommendation and card can purchase medical cannabis in Arkansas if they fill out a visiting patient form. The form includes a $50 application fee, and MMJ patients must provide proof of their home state’s medical marijuana registration. Once approved, a visiting patient may purchase cannabis in Arkansas for 30 days, after which they must reapply.
Michigan law leaves it up to individual dispensaries to decide whether to accept an out-of-state medical cannabis card. However, because recreational cannabis is legal in Michigan, adults 21 and up can legally purchase marijuana products. This should give new state residents enough time to apply for a Michigan card.
Medical marijuana cardholders can use their card in Montana to legally purchase and consume cannabis while visiting. However, once your original cannabis card expires, you must apply for a new card in Montana.
While recreational cannabis is legal in Nevada, medical cardholders can purchase more at a time than non-medical users. Nevada dispensaries recognize MMJ cards from other legalized state programs, but it’s worth it if you’ve recently moved to get a new card in-state.
New Mexico recognizes medical marijuana cards from other states, though once your original state’s card expires, you’ll need to apply for a card through New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.
Out-of-state medical cannabis cardholders can apply for a temporary license to purchase from Oklahoma dispensaries. The permit costs $100 and, after about two weeks’ processing time, is valid for 30 days upon approval, allowing patients to purchase and possess medical marijuana legally.
Rhode Island dispensaries allow medical marijuana patients with a valid government-issued ID and medical card to purchase cannabis and possess the same amount of medicine as in-state patients.
If an out-of-state patient’s qualifying condition matches one of Utah‘s, they qualify for the same legal protections as in-state medical marijuana patients.
The Bottom Line
Once you’ve moved, it makes sense to look into a state’s medical marijuana program. While many of the states we listed above have some short-term reciprocity, you’ll want to apply for an in-state medical marijuana card as soon as possible, which usually requires proof of residency. Some states have different residency requirements for their program, so be sure to do your due diligence, but your out-of-state card might work temporarily.
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