The Best City In the World Is Reciprocity

Noun rec·i·proc·i·ty \ re-sə-ˈprä-s(ə-)tē \ 


: the quality or state of being reciprocal: mutual dependence, action, or influence 

: a mutual exchange of privileges; specifically: a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other

Philosophically it’s a simple concept. Far easier to follow in theory than in practice—whether being applied to international relations or oral sex—one should always extend the same courtesies offered unto them. In the world of medical marijuana the definition is not so cut and dried. 

This is to be expected given the lack of preparedness and motivation that most lawmakers contribute to the legislative process when enacting medical marijuana laws in their respective bureaucracies. The framework cobbled together by individual states often runs counter to patient’s interests, instead proposing rules with a narrow focus on extracting as much money from entrepreneurs via application and licensing fees while creating hoop after hoop for patients and caregivers to jump through for access to life saving medicine.

States without pro-marijuana laws on the books are the minority in 2018. Nebraska, Idaho, Kansas, and other similarly regressive states chose to refuse and condemn the progress. It is a stubborn practice that is based in fear, religious bias, political affiliation and ignorance. They’ll even try to halt the headway through lawsuits, aggressive and predatory policing strategies and extreme criminalization of cannabis possession.

Despite the numbskullery that afflicts the majority of elected officials—some who are tasked with the chore of deliberating and deciding the who, what, where, when and why of it all do take the considerations of the medical marijuana community into account when writing the law of the land. But not all laws have been created equally. Just because a state has authorized a medical marijuana program it does not guarantee identical entitlements to a visiting patient.

Only handful of states have taken the high road and passed legislation that communicates a willingness to recognize other states’ medical marijuana patient’s rights.

Michigan, Hawaii, Nevada, and DC offer some protections and privileges for out-of-state patients

The Lowdown

The entire West Coast (plus Nevada) has legalized marijuana for everybody—not just the sick. However, recreational marijuana sales should not be misinterpreted as reciprocity. An out of state patient that is able to obtain cannabis in a recreational setting away from home is often paying exorbitant taxes not included on medical cannabis sales and are routinely exposed to products of a lesser quality standard than is acceptable for sick or hurt individuals.

In the Northeastern corridor we’re seeing medical and recreational cannabis sprouting up in some of the county’s most cherished and historic megalopolises at breakneck pace. The Southwest is in the midst of a green rush and the Midwest is hit or miss as Michigan and Illinois lead the way. The Bible Belt, like most of their views, is about a two centuries behind the rest of the country when it comes to medical marijuana.

In some reciprocal states, regulations merely help to shield visiting patients from prosecution for the possession of medical cannabis. That is marginally helpful but it places a burden on the patient transporting medicine should they happen to be traveling through any non-reciprocal territories on the way to a friendly final destination.

Other states versions of the law allow for a visiting qualifying patients registry card to have the same protections and privileges as a local patient’s card. What, pray tell, does that suggest? It implies that medical marijuana dispensaries will accept out of state patients as long as they have valid paperwork from their home state. Of course, this still requires understanding and cooperation from the proprietors of these establishments.

Where is your card good?


Pure Michigan, where vehicle emissions tests are not required and clean water is tough to come by, it is a relatively easy affair for a visiting patient to gain access to medial cannabis throughout the state. Ann Arbor, Detroit and Lansing are areas most dense with dispensaries for intrepid travelers.

Two pieces of legislation spell it out pretty explicitly.

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act states under section 333.26424 Protections for the Use of Medical Marihuana,

(k) A registry identification card, or its equivalent, that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the United States that allows the medical use of marihuana by a visiting qualifying patient, or to allow a person to assist with a visiting qualifying patient's medical use of marihuana, shall have the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the department.”


 The recently released (12/4/17) Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act Emergency Rules directs in Rule 40 that,

“(2) A provisioning center may sell or transfer marihuana product to a visiting qualifying patient if all the following are met:

(a) The licensee verifies that the visiting qualifying patient has a valid unexpired medical marihuana registry card or its equivalent issued in another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular possession of the United States that allows the medical use of marihuana ”

As far as precedence goes, it’ll be hard for anybody to deny you if you shove that language in their face. It’s suggested that you call ahead and ask if they allow out of state patients to shop before getting all high and mighty on them though.


Long before the island chain was colonized, the indigenous people of Hawaii had cultivated and consumed cannabis as a sacred, medicinal plant. Shortly after being admitted to the United States, landrace strains from Moloka’i, Maui, Kaua’i and elsewhere started to be eradicated by law enforcement agencies descending from helicopters in the sky to snatch crops up.

It would be a number of years until the state’s lawmakers acknowledged that marijuana was in fact a form of medicine. Fast-forward to January 1, 2018 and qualified visiting patients will be allowed to shop in dispensaries on all of the Hawaiian Islands. Per Chapter 329D, HRS,

“[§32d-13] Qualifying patients and primary caregivers; dispensing limits; other states. (a) A qualifying patient or a primary caregiver on behalf of a qualifying patients shall be allowed to purchase no more than four ounces of marijuana within a consecutive period of fifteen days, or no more than eight ounces of marijuana within a consecutive period of thirty days.

            (b) A qualifying patient or a primary caregiver on behalf of a qualifying patient may purchase from any dispensary location in the State, subject to the limits set forth in subsection (a).

            (c) Beginning on January 1, 2018, this section may apply to qualifying patients from other states, territories of the United States, or the District of Columbia; provided that the patient is a verified patient in their home state and registers with the department through a registration process established by the department.“

Redundant wording notwithstanding, subsection (c) addresses the issue of reciprocity unambiguously. Visiting patients are good to go on their next trip away from the mainland.


As if there was ever any question. The state that legalized prostitution and gambling couldn’t stay away from the sweet, sweet cheeba forever and all the glorious tax dollars that accompany it. While the state sorts out their recent legalization of marijuana, the medical program has been hospitable to visiting patients for a number of years, allowing them to utilize delivery services and more recently dispensaries. This all may come to an end soon.

A review of the Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 453A-Medical Use of Marijuana turns up three important changes to the current code set to become effective April 1, 2018.

Under the subheading: Recognition of nonresident cards [Effective April 1, 2018.] it states,

 “…(d) The state or jurisdiction from which the holder or bearer obtained the nonresident card maintains a database which preserves such information as may be necessary to verify the authenticity or validity of the nonresident card;

     (e) The state or jurisdiction from which the holder or bearer obtained the nonresident card allows the Division and medical marijuana dispensaries in this State to access the database described in paragraph (d);

     (f) The Division determines that the database described in paragraph (d) is able to provide to medical marijuana dispensaries in this State information that is sufficiently accurate, current and specific as to allow those dispensaries to verify that a person who holds or bears a nonresident card is entitled lawfully to do so; and…”

Together these three addendums to the law create an arbitrary and unnecessary obstacle for visiting patients to navigate. Each subsequent point adds a wrinkle to the process ending with a visiting patient’s home state’s registry database system needing to be accessed in order for any medicine to change hands.

It’s all a bit much. Just presenting valid medical marijuana card and photo ID used to suffice. Unless this is a very clever and slow played April Fool’s joke perpetrated by the Nevada state legislature then it could spell the end of reciprocity in Sin City and what ever else is out in the desert.

Washington, D.C.

The District’s City Council has quietly been passing liberal cannabis laws as the nation’s capital descends into madness. It took close to two years of notices, hearings and readings but eventually B21-0210 – Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment Act of 2015 was signed into law. The legislative summary describes that,

"Law 21-209 provides access to medical marijuana in the District of Columbia to those patients enrolled in a medical marijuana program from other jurisdictions. Patients must be undergoing a qualifying medical treatment or possess a valid medical marijuana card from their home jurisdiction…”

Short, sweet and to the point. The Nation’s Capital is down with for the cause.