Crossing (State) Lines
Since 2014, New York has made medical cannabis available to individuals suffering from a variety of conditions under the Compassionate Care Act. However, in order to obtain medical cannabis, a patient must be certified by a medical professional licensed in New York. Now, two states have decided that open lines of communication (and sales) should be allowed. On January 2, 2019, the Arkansas Department of Health announced it planned on issuing registry identification cards by February, following a meeting by the Medical Marijuana Commission where commissioners plan to award the state’s 32 dispensary licenses. This follows Oklahoma’s Marijuana Authority issuance of more than 33,000 patient licenses since June 2018. Following the approval of medical cannabis in Oklahoma the state reported that residents of Arkansas (and other states with state-issued medical cannabis licenses) can apply for a temporary license in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s temporary license lasts for 30 days. It can be renewed but cannot exceed the expiration date on an out-of-state license. Arkansas has approved over 6,000 patients for medicinal cards, but have not yet issued the cards. The approval letter patients received will not be accepted as verification. Additionally, even if a the product is purchased legally in Oklahoma, patients would not be able to transport it back across state lines due to the restrictions placed on cannabis by the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
Overall, it will be interesting to see how the states address the restrictions of transporting cannabis across state lines; how patients handle the restrictions and what the interplay between the states is like given any differences within their medical cannabis programs. The idea that an out of state license holder will purchase their medical cannabis in one state and not take it home with them is unrealistic. Time will tell whether any person who transports medical cannabis for personal use across state lines is prosecuted. It is once again a clear indication that despite continued support for the legal cannabis industry, delays and hurdles still exist when it comes to providing patients with access to the product.