Opinion: Letter from a Medical Patient

Heady Vermont Cannabis Op-Ed
Heady Vermont Staff 10 Feb 2017

This letter was originally published on the Vermont Homegrown Facebook page.

Hello Senators, 

My name is Kevin (last name witheld). I am a medical marijuana patient located in Lyndonville. I have been watching the improvements the last few years on the medical program and I believe we are heading in the correct direction with S-16.

There is something I would like to bring up that I believe should be included in the bill that some states have implemented, but has not been discussed here in Vermont.

I believe that Vermont should have a marijuana reciprocity for out of state patients. This would mean that out of state patients with a valid medical card would still have legal protection while in the state of Vermont. 

Right now there are at least eight states that have a marijuana reciprocity set up:

  • New Hampshire, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio and Rhode Island all allow possession.
  • Maine, Nevada, DC, and Hawaii starting Jan ’18, all allow possession and purchase.

Some states such as Maine require paperwork filled out from the state of Maine first. New Hampshire requires a doctor’s note on tamperproof paper that your qualifying condition is also a condition in their state. Rhode Island only requires the state issued ID. While I am not suggesting we go all out and allow out of state patients to buy marijuana here in Vermont, we should at least recognize their cards and keep them out of legal trouble.

It seems silly that I can drive through New Hampshire into Maine to buy medical marijuana and could then could drive to Rhode Island and smoke it while being in compliant of the law in each state every step of the way, but an out of state visitor in Vermont wouldn’t have the legal protections they have offered Vermont patients.

The work to add this to the bill would be minimal, just an extra paragraph. The language could follow something similar to what our neighbor, New Hampshire, has written:

“A valid registry identification card, or its equivalent, that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth, or insular posession of the United States that allows,in the jurisdiction of issuance, a visiting qualifying patient to possess cannabis for therapeutic purposes, shall have the same force and effect as a valid registry identification card issues by the department of the state…”

I am aware that if H-170 passes it would be less of a problem but there would still be some issues:

  • Out of state medical patients under the age of 21 would not be covered by the legal expansion covered in H-170. Even a gram of marijuana under the new law would land the out of state patient in diversion.
  • S-16 expands possession from two to three ounces. Three ounces would not be covered under current decriminalization law or the upcoming H-170 bill

I have benefited immensely from the reciprocity system our neighboring states have offered us. I can visit family and friends in New Hampshire and Rhode island without worrying about being arrested or without my medication. I can make a trip to Maine and visit the thousands of caregivers and get medication for $150-200/oz versus $300-450/oz here in Vermont. I think it is only fair that we extend the opportunity to patients visiting us.

Thank you for your time reading this and I hope your take this idea into consideration while you are continuing to look at and review S-16.


Medical Patient of Lyndonville, Vermont

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