Can You Use a California Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona?

Under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), patients with a medical marijuana card from another state can possess and use medical marijuana in Arizona. However, out-of-state patients cannot purchase medical marijuana from an Arizona dispensary. So, while traveling patients are welcome to carry and use medical marijuana during their stay in Arizona, they unfortunately cannot purchase any more medical marijuana until they return to their home state.

There is some speculation that an Arizona medical marijuana patient can donate medical marijuana to an out-of-state patient with proper documentation, but the AMMA is unclear about this. The AMMA does allow qualifying caregivers to administer medical marijuana to authorized patients, but the courts haven’t indicated whether this applies to out-of-state residents. As such, you should not solicit or accept “donated” medical marijuana in Arizona.

Case Law

When it comes to legal matters, legislative bills provide the foundation for a law, but it’s up to the courts to apply, interpret, and enforce the laws. As such, legal precedents established by the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court are often just as important—if not more important—than the original bill.

In this case, the legal precedent for using an out-of-state medical card in Arizona comes from a 2016 incident where a California resident was arrested and indicted for possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The defendant didn’t have a medical card, but he did have a doctor’s letter that qualified under California medical marijuana laws. Despite this, the prosecution successfully argued that the letter wasn’t valid in Arizona, and the defendant was convicted.

When the defendant appealed his case to the Arizona Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel overturned the conviction. In its decision, the court ruled that the AMMA provides visiting qualifying patients with the same immunity as Arizona residents with medical marijuana cards (subject to state possession and use limits). More importantly, the court ruled that law enforcement must recognize medical cards, physicians’ letters, and other authorized documents that comply with other states’ medical marijuana laws.

Why Can’t You Purchase from an Arizona Dispensary with a California Medical Card?

Interestingly, Arizona law doesn’t explicitly prohibit out-of-state patients from purchasing medical marijuana from a dispensary. Instead, the problem lies with the state verification system.

ARS 36-2806.02 requires Arizona dispensaries to check a patient’s credentials with the state’s verification system before dispensing medical marijuana, and the system is currently limited to Arizona patients. Arizona lawmakers may adjust these procedures in the future, but as of right now, there are no legal means for a traveling patient to purchase medical marijuana from an Arizona dispensary.

States That Recognize Medical Marijuana Cards

Arizona isn’t the only state that recognizes authorized medical cards from other states. Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island also have medical marijuana laws that recognize medical cards and physicians’ letters from other states.

However, traveling patients must still abide by each state’s possession and use laws, so you should exercise caution when carrying and using medical marijuana in another state. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid using medical marijuana in public places or vehicles to avoid any trouble with local law enforcement.

Possession Limits by State

As you’re traveling to other states that allow medical and/or recreational marijuana use, you’ll be expected to abide by each state’s possession and usage limits. These restrictions apply even if you have a medical marijuana card from another state that allows you to carry more. Following is a list of the 12 states that allow medical and/or recreational marijuana, along with the possession limits for each state:

  • Arizona – 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana 
  • California – 28.5 grams of cannabis flower and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate 
  • Colorado – up to 1 ounce of marijuana, with purchases restricted to ¼ ounces at a time
  • Maine – 2.5 ounces of marijuana 
  • Massachusetts – 1 ounce of cannabis flower and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Michigan – 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana 
  • Nevada – 1 ounce of cannabis and 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrate for any adult with valid government ID, or up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower for medical marijuana patients
  • New Hampshire – 2 ounces of usable marijuana, and patients must have a qualifying condition under New Hampshire’s medical marijuana laws
  • Oregon – 1 ounce of cannabis flower, 16 ounces of cannabis topicals, 1 ounce of cannabis concentrates, 72 ounces of infused liquid, and 16 ounces of solid infused edibles for any adults over 21 with a valid government ID
  • Pennsylvania – patients can only carry oils, pills, tinctures, and topical creams
  • Rhode Island – 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana
  • Washington – 1 ounce of cannabis flower, 7 ounces of cannabis concentrates, 72 ounces of infused liquid, and 16 ounces of solid infused edibles for any adult over 21 with valid government ID

Frequently Asked Questions

Following is a brief overview of some common questions from travelers with a medical marijuana card. If you have any further questions, you should reach out to an Arizona attorney with experience in medical marijuana laws.

Where Can Qualifying Patients Smoke or Consume Medical Marijuana?

Medical cannabis must not be purchased or consumed from a dispensary and may only be smoked in private spaces. Edibles can be eaten in public without issue; however, smoking it in public places should generally be avoided.

Patents in an adult foster care home, assisted living facility, hospice, nursing care institution, or an adult day care health facility may be permitted to use medical marijuana according to the restrictions imposed by the facility.

Can a Qualifying Patient Use Medical Marijuana While Driving?

Arizona law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

Can You Hold a Medical Marijuana Card in More than One State?

Qualifying patients must provide proof of residency in Arizona through various forms, such as an Arizona driver’s license, ID card or registry card or the photograph page of a US passport. They also require certification from an Arizona physician as part of the process to qualify. Provided these criteria are fulfilled, an Arizona registry identification card can be issued even if you already hold one from another state.

What Medical Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona?

AMMA currently applies to patients living with AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, hepatitis C and HIV infections as well as any chronic or debilitating medical condition or treatment for qualifying diseases and conditions that causes cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, nausea or seizures (including epilepsy ) or persistent muscle spasms (including MS).


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