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New York
September 22, 2019
Health

Should Out-of-State Residents Be Able to Buy Medical Marijuana

Many of the states that have legalized medical marijuana have also put laws in place to prevent abuse. Maryland is a good example. Maryland cannabis laws require patients who want to use medical marijuana to register with the state and obtain a certificate from their doctors. Residents of other states cannot obtain ID cards or certificates in Maryland.

This begs the question of whether or not out-of-state residents should be able to buy medical marijuana in states like Maryland. On the one hand, you could make the case that a neighboring state that doesn’t allow medical marijuana use is causing patients unnecessary harm. But you could also make the case that state sovereignty must take precedence over individual need.

Evolving Medical Cannabis Laws

For the record, Maryland at one time allowed out-of-state residents to apply for ID cards and certificates. That changed in 2017 when state regulators put a 60-day hold on review of all out-of-state applications. They extended that hold indefinitely in December of that year.

The state’s reasoning was that medical marijuana laws are constantly evolving. They explained that they needed time to catch up. It is a valid argument. Maryland cannabis laws are more strict than comparable laws in other states, but more liberal than the laws in others. Maryland is trying to find that sweet spot that allows them to accommodate patients with legitimate needs without opening the state system to abuse.

In order to get a medical marijuana card in Maryland, patients must first register with the state. Their applications are reviewed by a state commission before being approved. Those patients who are approved then receive a state medical marijuana number. That number makes them eligible to see a state-registered physician to get a medical cannabis certificate.

This process appears to work well for state residents. As such, medical marijuana in Maryland seems to be doing well. But for those who would seek to purchase medical marijuana in Maryland despite not being a state resident, the laws are restrictive.

Looking for Some Accommodation

Opponents of Maryland’s indefinite hold on out-of-state applications make a good case that some accommodations need to be made. A case in point would be an out-of-state resident visiting friends or family in Maryland for an extended amount of time. That individual would either have to transport marijuana across state lines, which is still a crime under federal law, or go without cannabis while in Maryland.

Maryland regulators recognize these sorts of issues and are looking for a way around them. Right now they are struggling with the definition of a ‘qualifying patient’ under current Maryland cannabis laws. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is trying to figure things out in light of legislation enacted between 2013 and 2015, legislation that requires them to approve medical marijuana applications in the state.

Answers Are Sometimes Elusive

Both access to medical marijuana and cannabis laws are changing so rapidly right now that answers can sometimes be elusive. For example, some states now allow patients to use services like Veriheal to obtain patient certificates online. Online medicine is very new in and of itself, let alone applying it to medical marijuana.

The fact remains that across the country and in states like Maryland, medical marijuana is still somewhat of a new. As laws mature and evolve, the medical marijuana environment is only going to change more. This leaves state regulators, physicians, and patients in a constant state of flux. That’s just the way it is, and the way it will be for the foreseeable future.

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