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Can You Get a Medical Card If You Don’t Live in That State?

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Most state medical marijuana programs require several forms and pieces of identification to apply for a medical card, one of which is proof of residency. While some states don’t require you to live in the state to participate in their program, most medical marijuana regulations mandate that you live where you’re applying for a card for medical use.

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Can You Get a Medical Card If You Don’t Live in That State?

Essentially, the answer is mostly no. The overwhelming majority of states where medical cannabis is legal require individuals to reside within the state before issuing them a medical marijuana card. However, this isn’t an issue if you live in a region with legalized adult-use cannabis. If you’re over 21 years old, you can still purchase weed in a dispensary if you have a photo ID to prove your age.

A few states do allow individuals to acquire a medical marijuana card without proving residency. While California doesn’t recognize out-of-state medical cards, visitors to California can apply for a medical marijuana identification program without providing proof of residence. All that’s needed is proof of ID, for which a driver’s license or passport will suffice.

Like California, Hawaii allows out-of-state patients to apply for their medical marijuana program to access cannabis medicine without having to live there. Individuals with severe or terminal conditions can get their applications fast-tracked to receive faster access to the treatment they need. New Jersey also offers temporary cards to visiting patients, which do not require proof of residency and are valid for six months.

MMJ Card Reciprocity

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, first, we must understand the concept of reciprocity as it applies to medical cannabis. Medical marijuana card reciprocity is when a medical marijuana program in one state recognizes the validity of a medical marijuana card and certificate from another state.

This means that if you hold a medical card in one state, you can continue to use medical marijuana when you travel to another state which has reciprocity and will be subject to the laws of the state in which you are traveling. Many states have reciprocity programs in place, meaning you can access medical marijuana in that state even while you don’t live there.

Alternatives to Getting a Medical Card

If you live in a state with legalized recreational marijuana use, you may not need to go through the sometimes lengthy or complicated process of getting a medical card. States with adult-use cannabis, like New Mexico or Nevada, only require you to prove that you’re 21 years of age or older to purchase marijuana. This ensures access to the medical cannabis you need for your particular condition without going through the steps to get a medical card somewhere besides your home state.

Just make sure not to bring your medicine back home across state lines. Once you transport cannabis into a new state, you forfeit all the state-sanctioned protections and become subject to United States federal law, in which it is illegal to possess, use or transport cannabis.

The Bottom Line

It may make more sense to get a medical marijuana card in your state instead of traveling to one of the few states that will provide you access to medicine without proof of an in-state address. Visiting an adult-use marijuana state will offer many of the same cannabis products that medical patients can access while sidestepping the application process for a medical card.

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