One word you’re bound to hear when learning about medical marijuana in different states is the term: Reciprocity. Since the laws are constantly evolving and vary from state to state, it can be difficult and confusing to know how to medicate out of state. It’s important to note the difference between medical and recreational marijuana. While most recreational states have medical programs, not all medical states allow you to use pot recreationally. So, to the best of my ability, I can try to help you understand what reciprocity means and how it works.

What reciprocity ultimately boils down to is “Will X state accept an out-of-state medical marijuana card?”

In Florida, for example, the answer is no. This isn’t unique to Florida, there are still plenty of states that offer medical marijuana cards and are non-reciprocal. For example, Illinois will not accept an out-of-state medical marijuana card, despite medical marijuana AND recreational marijuana being legal in Illinois. One can still purchase marijuana when visiting Illinois, but despite it being for a medical purpose, it’s looked at the same as someone trying to purchase recreationally for adult use.

Then there are the states where they’ll accept an out-of-state medical marijuana card with certain caveats. For example, New Hampshire has a caveat where a patient with an out-of-state medical marijuana card can possess up to two ounces, HOWEVER, they CAN NOT purchase medical marijuana from a New Hampshire dispensary. In addition, the out-of-state patient’s qualifying condition must be one that also qualifies under New Hampshire standards. 

There are currently 37 legal medical marijuana states, as well as Washington DC. In these states, you can get a medical marijuana card, but you must live in the state to do so. Out of these states, approximately 10 states are currently reciprocal to out-of-state cards at this time, which means patients with an out-of-state medical marijuana card can use it there.* As noted above, other states may allow possession of medical marijuana but not purchase. Just remember to be smart and responsible and research the state’s reciprocity before visiting; those visiting out-of-state could be arrested for possessing medical marijuana, despite having both the condition and (out of state) card. 

While Florida may not be among the reciprocal states, there is something that stands out about Florida - the medical marijuana law known as “The Snowbird Clause”. What this means is that as long as you live in Florida for at least 31 consecutive days per year and show a Florida address, you can get a card, even if you spend most of the year living in a different state. This game-changing clause is a huge win for the influx of snowbirds come wintertime! I take solace in the fact that the snowbirds are still eligible for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, because conditions don’t stay at home when you’re on vacation.

*All numbers are subject to change on a daily basis; laws are funky like that.