Important Things to Know About Cannabis Reciprocity

It has been a long time since we have discussed cannabis reciprocity here in Utah. Therefore, we thought a refresher was in order. With tens of thousands of Medical Cannabis patients in Utah now, new patients are being added to the roles daily. Reciprocity is a topic that needs to be discussed more often.

What is cannabis reciprocity? How does it affect you? Keep reading to find out. As you read, bear in mind that Utah Therapeutic Health Center assists patients looking to obtain or renew their Utah Medical Cannabis Cards. We have a number of clinics located throughout the state.

The Basics of Reciprocity

The concept of reciprocity, from the perspective of state law, is pretty easy to understand. States involved in a reciprocity agreement recognize and honor the laws of the other states involved in the agreement. Your driver’s license is the perfect example.

All fifty states and the District of Columbia practice reciprocity when it comes to driver’s licenses. So even though you earned your driver’s license in Utah, it is valid anywhere in the country. That’s reciprocity. All the other states agree to honor Utah’s driver’s license. In exchange, Utah honors licenses from all the other states as well.

It is Never Guaranteed

Reciprocity is a necessity in the U.S. due to how our federal and state laws are implemented. First of all, anything not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution is regulated at the state level. That is why we do not have a federal driver’s license. Our state-heavy system keeps Washington at arm’s length. At the same time, it also means different laws from one state to the next.

The reality is that reciprocity is never guaranteed. We know this all too well where Medical Cannabis is concerned. To date, there are only thirty-eight states that legally recognize Medical Cannabis. Patients cannot use Medical Cannabis in the remaining twelve states. So right off the bat, there is a reciprocity issue with those states.

Even among states with legalized Medical Cannabis, reciprocity isn’t universal. There are a few states that have reached reciprocity agreements. Utah is not one of them, so there is no guarantee that your Utah Medical Cannabis card will be recognized anywhere else.

Non-Resident Medical Cannabis Cards

Utah doesn’t recognize Medical Cannabis Cards from other states, either. But not all is lost. The state does offer another option: the non-resident Medical Cannabis card. People from other states can apply for these temporary cards in advance of a planned visit.

A non-resident card gives out-of-state visitors the same legal rights and access as residents with permanent cards. The only real difference is how long the cards are valid for. Resident Medical Cannabis Cards are issued for six months at a time. Non-resident cards are only good for 21 days.

Patients should also note that they must have a valid Medical Cannabis Card from their own state and be diagnosed with a qualifying condition according to Utah regulations. As long as those two conditions are met, non-residents can get temporary cards.

Reciprocity and Interstate Transport

One last thing you should be aware of is that reciprocity doesn’t necessarily mean you can transport Medical Cannabis across state lines. Under federal law, you cannot. The same goes for Utah. Visitors are not allowed to carry Medical Cannabis into the state; residents cannot carry it out of the state. Reciprocity has no bearing on that particular aspect.

Here’s hoping that Medical Cannabis Cards will one day be just like driver’s licenses. Perhaps a decade from now, a card from any state will be recognized by every other state and the District of Columbia.

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Published October 4, 2022

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