One of the biggest problems that patients who rely on medical marijuana face is the fact that the laws vary from state-to-state, meaning their medicine is not legal everywhere they go. It also means that they cannot bring their medicine on an airplane, across state lines, or even purchase it in most places outside of the state where they are registered. Washington D.C. is the first area to open their medical marijuana program to cardholders from a total of 27 of the states that have legalized medical cannabis.
“This emergency rulemaking is patient-centric,” said Bowser in a statement. “It ensures medical marijuana patients from other states can obtain their needed medicine. It will also promote public safety by allowing visitors to obtain their medicine at one of the District’s six — soon to be seven — authorized dispensaries rather than forcing them to go without or patronizing the illegal market.”
The D.C. program already accepted medical marijuana cards from Washington, Colorado, Florida, Delaware, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, North Dakota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Montana. This week, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that they would be adding six additional states – New York, Vermont, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Alaska and Arizona.
The only states with medical marijuana laws that have not been included – but are under review to be included in the future – are West Virginia, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisiana. Louisiana has only just started their medical marijuana sales this month and West Virginia hasn’t even registered patients or started licensing businesses yet, so these states will likely be added once their own programs are more stable.
“We want to be able to regulate, we want to be able to make sure we are collecting our fair share in taxes, we want to invest those taxes in ways that affect communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire DC residents,” Bowser said earlier this year.
While patients do need to remember that they cannot take their medicine across state lines, those that are looking to vacation in the D.C. area can find relief in the fact that they will be able to purchase the medicine they need in the district’s licensed dispensaries. Hopefully, other states will see what D.C. has done to help patients and consider allowing dispensaries to accept out-of-state medical marijuana ID cards, ensuring that patients can access their medicine without being restricted to their home state.