Medical Marijuana Card Reciprocity in Florida
Because Compassion shouldn’t stop at the border
Florida’s medical marijuana program is humming along nicely with an estimated $1.3 billion in sales last year — the third-highest tally in the country for 2020. The state also added roughly 15,000 cannabis jobs in 2020 alone. More than 31,000, Floridians are now employed in the medical marijuana market.
As encouraging as that is, the Sunshine State is not only selling itself short in terms of medical marijuana sales and tax collections, it’s also leaving some people out while holding back the state’s bread and butter industry — tourism.
Why do we have a medical marijuana program in Florida? The answer, in one word, is compassion.
If people who are suffering can find some measure of relief from cannabis, and there’s really no harm done by it, then denying out-of-state patients access to medical marijuana in Florida is heartless and cruel.
If we are compassionate enough as a state to offer relief to our own residents, then how can we turn our backs and not offer compassion to visitors to our fair state?
Who wants to go on vacation to Florida and be MISERABLE?
Amy and Mark Anderson and their two kids are coming to Florida for a nice, expensive, Disneyworld vacation and to spend some quality time at the nation’s best beaches. Back home in Ohio, Amy is a cardholding medical marijuana patient who uses cannabis to relieve chronic pain from an old injury, as well as having mild Chron’s Disease, and Mark, who suffers from occasional PTSD episodes generally carries a cannabis-infused vape pen for anxiety relief, also has his medical card. By using medical marijuana, both have been able to lead happier lives, raising their kids in todays world while getting off some of the drugs prescribed by doctors.
The fact of the matter is, if they want to enjoy their Florida vacation, they’re going to have to either smuggle in their cannabis and risk ending up in prison or they’ll have to carry an array of pharmaceuticals to deal with their medical issues. Some of those drugs are toxic and come with side effects that could make it difficult to be a normal family. They will also have been purchased out of state.
It’s highly likely that this family — or any medical marijuana patient — will have to seriously think twice about coming here on vacation.
“I don’t wants to go on vacation to Florida and be MISERABLE” Amy Anderson of Kent, OH
“That is a most excellent idea! My husband and I have a travel trailer and like to do some camping over the next few years, before I am unable to. It would be nice to know that I wouldn’t have to worry about going through a hassle to get my meds. Thanks for letting me know” Audrey, Florida Resident
We’re not just talking about denying compassion to a handful of people here. We’re talking about denying compassion to millions of potential visitors who might rather vacation in Florida than in states such as California, Colorado, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, etc. These are the states toward which marijuana tourists currently gravitate because they can get their medicine and enjoy their vacation.
Reciprocity for Out of State Medical Cards.
Reciprocity is the act of allowing out-of-state medical marijuana patients to shop at Florida dispensaries while at the same time enabling Florida’s medical marijuana patients to get the medicine they need in some of the 30-plus states that offer medical marijuana.
Reciprocity is the most logical next step for Florida’s medical marijuana program.
There are two reasons why this is an idea whose time has come. First, reciprocity extends compassion to visitors in the Sunshine State and Florida residents traveling to other states. Second, it would bring millions of dollars of revenue into the state, not only putting millions in additional tax revenue into state coffers but also bolstering the state’s tourism industry.
What’s the connection between medical marijuana and tourism in Florida? And why does it matter?
How would Marijuana Card reciprocity work in Florida?
Medical marijuana doctors in Florida have a list of qualifying conditions for which they may approve a patient for a Florida medical marijuana card. The last bullet point on that list effectively states that doctors are permitted to use their own judgment. If they feel a patient with some other condition that’s not on the list can benefit from using medical marijuana they can approve the application.
If the list of qualifying medical conditions is open-ended here in Florida, then there’s no need to restrict particular states from reciprocity based on their list of qualifying conditions. If the patient has been approved for medical marijuana card by a doctor in another state then they could theoretically be approved here as well.
This doesn’t mean that Florida should offer reciprocity to every U.S. state with a medical marijuana program. There might be some logical exceptions such as states that only permit the use of low-THC or hemp-derived products. States like Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky would most likely not take kindly to Florida offering medical grade THC marijuana products including cannabis concentrates to their citizens.
On the other hand, patients in more relaxed states such as California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and many others that don’t regulate the amount of THC in their medical marijuana products would qualify for a temporary out-of-state Florida medical marijuana card.
The financial benefits of reciprocation
Extending compassion to out-of-state medical marijuana patients creates a win-win situation here in Florida.
First, Florida wins because it gains vacationers and snowbirds that spend a lot of money. Medical marijuana patients across the nation win because they will have access to the medicine they need. This means they’ll now have the option of vacationing in our beautiful Sunshine State.
Just how much of a win would this be for Florida? Let’s crunch some numbers.
According to data provided by ChampionTraveller.com, rounded off, the average price of a 7-day trip for a group of people is between $4,000 and $7,000 (even higher if all four are adults).
Another source, VacationKids.com, says if the group is on a Disney vacation, they can expect to spend a little over $200 per day per person for expenses such as hotel, park passes, and food. For a one-week vacation to Disney World, that’s a total spend of over $5,000 for a family of four.
According to numbers provided at TampaBay.com, Florida attracted more than 130 million travelers in 2019. Hypothetically, if offering reciprocity can increase that number by 0.1% (that’s one extra visitor per thousand), that would mean 130,000 additional visitors.
At $5,000 per family of four, that would be over $162 million dollars spent here in Florida. Tax rates vary in Florida. Assuming around a 7% tax rate (lodging tax, dining tax, sales tax, etc.) that’s more than $11 million in let’s call it sales tax revenue.
That might not sound like a lot. But add on top of that corporate taxes paid by companies in the state that host those travelers and the taxes paid when the rising number of employees of those companies spend their paychecks.
There’s also the goodwill and free advertising generated by the 130,000 additional visitors posting on social medial about their glorious Florida vacation reaching millions of friends and followers. That’s free advertising. Let’s just say their posts reach 1.3 million people. At a standard advertising response rate of 1%, that’s an additional 13,000 visitors.
Add on top of that any money spent at Florida dispensaries. According to FlowHub.com, about 25% of cannabis products sold nationwide are purchased by out-of-state customers. It would be a stretch to say Florida would sell one-third more medical marijuana if reciprocity were offered, however, even a five or ten percent increase in cannabis sales would be substantial — something in the area of $25 to $50 million in additional annual sales.
And we’re still not done. Let’s say the state charges $75 for a temporary out-of-state medical marijuana card. That’s 130,000 visitors times $75 or another nearly $10 million in the state’s war chest.
Of course, these numbers are all just best guestimates. There are probably a hundred ways this could be modeled and the numbers could vary wildly. However, under the bottom line is a big enough number that when combined with the compassion factor makes reciprocity a total no-brainer for Florida.
The ability for Floridians to use their medical cards in other states?
The reciprocal scenario is also important. Let’s say a Florida resident with a medical marijuana card wants to travel either for business or pleasure to any other state in the U.S. Unless it’s one of the 17 that offer recreational marijuana, and unless they’re 21-plus, they’re out of luck.
States With Reciprocity:
- Arizona – Limited reciprocity
- Arkansas – Reciprocity
- California – Reciprocity and recreational 21+
- Colorado – Recreational 21+
- Illinois – Recreational 21+
- Maine – Reciprocity, recreational 21+
- Massachusetts – Recreational 21+
- Michigan – Reciprocation, recreational 21+
- Missouri – Reciprocity 21+
- Montana – Reciprocity
- Nevada – Reciprocity, recreational 21+
- New Hampshire – Limited legal protection
- New Jersey – Reciprocity, recreational 21+
- New York – Reciprocity, recreational 21+
- Oklahoma – Reciprocity
- Oregon – Recreational 21+
- Pennsylvania – Reciprocity for minors only
- Puerto Rico – Recprocity
- Vermont – Recreational 21+
- Utah – Reciprocity
- Virginia – Recreational 21+
- Washington – Recreational 21+
- Washington, D.C. – Reciprocity, recreational 21+
How to make MedCard reciprocity work in Florida?
If you want to help extend compassion to out-of-state medical marijuana patients and Florida residents that travel while helping to boost tourism in the state of Florida, you can either write a letter on this topic to your state representatives or you can simply forward them this article. Also, please share this post on social media.
They sure don’t make a one size fits all to contacting a rep, but if you do the search, you will know who your rep is. Then, by clicking the email link in the social buttons below, you can forward this to anyone, including your representative.
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