Can Ohio Patients Use Their Medical Cards in Michigan?

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Written by Sindy Brent on 02/27/2024.
Data Last Updated: 07/22/2024.

Chromometer 6 min

For medical marijuana patients in Ohio, the lure of Michigan’s greener and more affordable pastures has proven hard to resist. With significantly lower prices and a wider selection of products, many Ohioans are making the cross-border trek to take advantage of Michigan’s more mature cannabis market. But is it legal to use an Ohio medical marijuana card in Michigan dispensaries? The answer leans towards the affirmative, though it’s essential to note a crucial caveat: transporting cannabis across state lines is still a federal offense.

Why are many people interested in buying marijuana in Michigan?

Why are many people interested in buying marijuana in Michigan?

The primary driving force behind Ohio patients’ Michigan migration is simple economics. A recent report by the Ohio State University Drug Enforcement and Policy Center found that while Ohio’s medical marijuana prices have dropped by over 30% from 2022 to 2023, they still can’t compete with the bargains found in Michigan.A $20 product in Ohio might cost just $5 at a Michigan dispensary.

Several factors contribute to this pricing gap:

  • Limited Licenses, Limited Competition. As of early 2023, Ohio had issued less than 80 dispensary licenses, compared to over 1,000 in Michigan. This lack of competition has allowed Ohio dispensaries to keep prices high, while Michigan’s saturated market has driven costs down through fierce competition.
  • Regulatory Burden and Taxation. Ohio’s tightly regulated medical marijuana program imposes significant compliance costs on businesses, from stringent security requirements to limited tax deductions under IRS code 280E. These expenses get passed on to consumers. Meanwhile, Michigan’s recreational market enjoys a more relaxed regulatory environment.
  • Market Maturity. Michigan legalized medical marijuana over a decade before Ohio, allowing its industry to mature and stabilize. As a newcomer, Ohio’s market is still finding its footing, with supply and price fluctuations expected in the early years.
  • Wide range of products. Beyond just pricing, Michigan’s recreational-use market offers a vastly wider array of cannabis products and strain varieties compared to Ohio’s more restrictive medical offerings. From exotic concentrate varieties to an endless rotation of flower strains, Wolverine State dispensaries cater to consumer demands that Ohio’s fledgling industry cannot yet match.

Can or cannot I use another state’s medical records in Michigan?

Can or cannot I use another state's medical records in Michigan?

Can Ohioans with medical marijuana cards use them at Michigan dispensaries that accept Ohio cards? The situation isn’t clear-cut. Michigan’s reciprocity laws enable out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to buy from its dispensaries, yet whether an Ohio card is accepted depends on each dispensary’s policy. Therefore, it’s recommended to verify with the dispensary before visiting. While some Michigan dispensaries may welcome Ohio cards, transporting purchased products back to Ohio carries significant legal risks.

Illegal transportation of marijuana across state lines

Even if Ohio patients can access Michigan’s affordable, diverse cannabis products, one major hurdle remains: it is strictly illegal to transport any marijuana across state lines, regardless of your home state’s laws or medical permissions. Federal statute is clear on this, and penalties for interstate cannabis trafficking can be severe depending on quantities involved.

Both states are aware of patient border-crossing to access cheaper cannabis. Preliminary talks have broached the idea of an interstate reciprocity agreement to resolve this legally murky situation. However, no firm policies have materialized as of early 2024 due to the complexities of such an arrangement under ongoing federal prohibition.

Is Relief on the Horizon for Ohio Patients?

While the price gap persists, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Ohio’s medical marijuana patients:

Potential for Legal Home Cultivation

By approving Issue 2 in November 2023, Ohio legalized recreational cannabis statewide. Importantly, the measure also granted all adults the right to cultivate up to 6 plants per person or 12 plants per household. This provision provides a legal, low-cost way for many patients to supplement their supply outside the traditional dispensary market.

Reciprocity on the Negotiating Table

Both Ohio and Michigan have expressed interest in an interstate reciprocity agreement that would allow Ohio cardholders to purchase and transport a limited amount of cannabis from Michigan dispensaries. However, such an agreement faces roadblocks due to the federal prohibition.

More Dispensary Licenses Incoming

To address supply shortages and price concerns, Ohio regulators have been pressuring cultivators to expand their grow operations. More products hitting the market could finally provide the pricing relief patients have sought.

In the meantime, many Ohio medical marijuana cardholders are likely to continue their cross-border cannabis expeditions, carefully weighing the risks and rewards. But one message is clear: the road to affordable, accessible medical marijuana remains arduous, with Ohio patients caught between regulatory hurdles, market forces, and the long shadow of federal prohibition.

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