Can I Use My Ohio Medical Marijuana Card in Michigan?
There are many states with restrictive medical cannabis programs. And other states where the cost of medical marijuana is not affordable for patients. Or where certain products and strains may be difficult to acquire.
Patients in Ohio can trust our team at DocMJ. Our physicians are cannabis healthcare experts, friendly, and compassionate to patient needs. If you are ready to explore medical cannabis as an alternative health option, there is no need to visit our Ohio offices. We provide convenient and affordable telemedicine appointments for our patients.
Start a relationship with an Ohio marijuana doctor who cares about helping you achieve your wellness goals. Schedule an appointment with DocMJ in Ohio.
Many patients in Ohio are frustrated by the overall costs of medical marijuana. Even though the state does not charge an additional excise tax on medical marijuana, the per-product cost creates an obstacle to accessibility for some patients, including those with a lower income or who may be on disability or other social support.
Just over the border from Ohio is the state of Michigan, which has a burgeoning medical and recreational marijuana market with plenty of dispensaries offering good quality cannabis products at reasonable prices.
Suppose you live in Ohio and are a registered patient in the medical marijuana program. In that case, you may wonder if you can take a short road trip and legally purchase cannabis in Michigan instead. Or ask yourself, “Can I use my Ohio medical marijuana card in Michigan?”
Here are some facts you need to know about medical marijuana costs in Ohio versus Michigan and what the law says about crossing state lines with marijuana.
Why Would Ohio Residents Want to Buy Medical Marijuana in Michigan?
The primary reason why patients would consider buying medical marijuana in Ohio is to save money. Costs of medical cannabis remain higher than the black market (illicit and illegally) purchased marijuana.
A quick look online at the costs of similar products in surrounding states may be frustrating to patients living in Ohio. It is more expensive to purchase medical marijuana in Ohio than it is for medical or recreational purchases in nearby states.
Another primary reason why Ohio medical marijuana patients may want to visit a Michigan dispensary is to purchase a greater variety of strains. As Michigan has recreational cannabis, there are more and different strains available.
The interest from Ohio patients purchasing medical marijuana in Michigan may soon change, however. And some of the challenges regarding competitive pricing of medical marijuana products (and varieties).
Why is Medical Cannabis More Expensive in Ohio?
One of the most frequent complaints that patients have about medical cannabis in Ohio is the cost of products. There are many things that contribute to the higher-than-average cost of medical marijuana in Ohio.
Limited Business Licensing (and Less Competition)
As of April 2023, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, there were 77 certificates of operation issued in the state. That means there are less than one-hundred dispensaries currently operating in Ohio.
In a closed market, where only medical cannabis is legalized, prices are traditionally higher. That is because of caps on the number of dispensary and cultivator licenses that are issued by the state.
There are many areas in Ohio without medical cannabis dispensaries. The concentration of dispensaries is located in the Cincinnati, Toledo, and Cleveland areas, with significant spaces that have no medical marijuana dispensaries for patients.
All Cannabis Expenses Are Not Tax Deductible for Businesses
Affordability is one of the big reasons why the cannabis industry is pushing for federal legalization. Unlike other businesses, plant-touching entities (dispensaries, cultivators, and processors) cannot claim most operational expenses. But they are taxed higher in some cases than other sectors.
In Ohio, there is no corporate state tax. However, regulations from the Internal Revenue Service (280E) indicate that cannabis businesses can claim some Costs of Goods Sold (COGs). The basic cost of inventory is tax deductible, but no overhead expenses (including advertising, wage/salary, travel expenses, etc.) are permitted.
In some localities in Ohio, cannabis businesses are also required to pay an additional tax. Individual counties determine this. In short, the expenses of operating a cannabis business in Ohio are high, and that inflates the cost of products delivered to patients.
Commercial Insurance Does Not Cover Losses for Cannabis Business Owners
Did you know that most insurance companies will not provide coverage for cannabis business owners? That will remain unchanged while federal law prohibits cannabis sales. Some companies do offer “high-risk” insurance coverage for plant-touching businesses. But as you can imagine, the cost is very high. And that also contributes to higher-priced medical marijuana in Ohio.
Recreational Market in Michigan May Have More Variety of Strains
When a state allows a small number of cannabis business licenses and the operating costs within the state are expensive, the variety of strains may be limited. Dispensaries will cultivate strains that are popular with local patients, but the selection of different strains can also be limited.
Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in 2018. The first sale of recreational marijuana in Michigan retail dispensaries followed about one year later, in December 2019. In February 2023, 347,733 pounds of cannabis and 354,200 fluid ounces of recreational marijuana were sold in Michigan. The state saw $32 million in tax revenue for the month of February 2023 alone.
By 2022, there were over five hundred (500) medical cannabis dispensaries in Michigan and another 470 recreational (adult-use) dispensaries selling to Michigan residents. There are just over 1,000 cultivators in the state of Michigan at the time of writing.
More dispensaries mean more competition and, consequently, better products and variety. In fact, the competition among dispensaries in Michigan is so great that some companies have closed, citing low profitability. And Michigan law enforcement has stated a growing problem with the flow of medical marijuana products from cultivators over state lines into Ohio.
Cannabis Prices in Michigan Versus Ohio
Saving money remains the top motivation for Ohio residents to legally purchase medical marijuana in another state like Michigan. Even though Ohio has a legalized medical marijuana program, there is definitely a big difference in costs between the two states.
In December 2022, the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency reported that the average price of recreational marijuana dropped to $95.12 per ounce for cannabis flower. That was a 50% reduction in average price from the same period in 2021. The downward price pressure is mostly because there are now more than 1,800 licensed dispensaries in Michigan.
By comparison, Ohio medical marijuana is far more expensive. Craine’s Cleveland Business reported that prices have come down slightly in Ohio. The average price for cannabis flower in January 2022 was $270 per ounce. In January 2023, the average price of medical marijuana was reported at $215 per ounce. Still, that is twice the price of comparable quality cannabis in Michigan.
The risks of transporting cannabis over state lines are significant. But it is not difficult to see why it is tempting for patients. However, law enforcement along corridor interstate highways in Ohio is also aware of the flow of cannabis from Michigan. And spot checks along interstate routes are common when Ohio residents cross over state lines.
Will Ohio Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
The majority of Ohioans appear to support the legalization of recreational cannabis. A recent poll conducted by Emerson College indicated 50.4% were in favor of recreational cannabis legalization, while 39.7% were opposed. About 10% of Ohio voters were undecided.
At the time of writing, signatures had been gathered by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) and submitted. The CTRMLA reform proposal would allow Ohioans aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates without a medical marijuana card. The proposal would also allow Ohio residents to grow up to six plants (12 plants per household with multiple adults).
When the CTRMLA reform proposal failed to pass in 2022, Ohio state lawmakers agreed to reintroduce it in January 2023 (without requiring another series of public support signatures). It was resubmitted by Secretary of State Frank LaRose on January 3, 2023. Lawmakers had until May 3, 2023, to accept the proposal, but it was declined. Now, the question regarding recreational cannabis legalization will go before voters in 2024.
Difficulties Faced by Ohio Patients When MMJ Was Legalized
Ohio State passed medical marijuana into law in September of 2018, with the program becoming fully operational in January 2019 under House Bill 523. At first, very few dispensaries were available for patients in Ohio, like other comparable medical cannabis programs.
As of February 2019, only eight dispensaries were opened, meaning patients were hard-pressed to find products within reasonable driving distance. Furthermore, supply continues to be low relative to states where marijuana laws have been in place longer, so demand has driven prices higher.
Patients are allowed only a 90-day supply of marijuana in their possession at a time. In the beginning, patients were confused because the dispensaries were only licensed to sell medical marijuana in flower form, yet state legislation permits only the use of vaporizers, edibles, oils, tinctures, and patches. The Ohio medical marijuana program got off to a bumpy start.
Fortunately, it only took a few months for those licensing issues to be changed so that dispensaries could sell a full supply of marijuana products. Still, while more than 70 dispensaries are now open statewide, many find the drive to those locations inconvenient.
Crossing State Lines to Buy Products
While you can’t legally bring medical marijuana across the border from Michigan to Ohio, there is good news for those who live nearer to dispensaries in Michigan because Michigan law does allow for the sale of marijuana products to out-of-state cardholders.
This is known as “medical cannabis reciprocity” and “simply refers to whether or not each state has reciprocal (equal) laws with regard to whether patients can legally purchase medical marijuana when they are not in their home state where the card was issued.”
If the Michigan dispensary agrees to honor your Ohio medical card, you will save 10% tax compared to purchasing recreational cannabis in Michigan. If you are visiting a family member or friend or vacationing in Michigan, you may have the option of visiting a medical marijuana dispensary or a recreational marijuana retailer.
Can I Buy Medical Marijuana if I Am Visiting Michigan?
It is important to call dispensaries ahead of time since the decision of whether to sell products to Ohio residents remains at the discretion of the dispensary owners. For those dispensaries that honor medical cannabis reciprocity, patients need only provide “a state-issued identification card and a medical marijuana program registry card from the same state.”
As Michigan has legalized recreational marijuana, you can purchase cannabis products without a medical card if you are twenty-one (21) or older. To buy from a recreational dispensary, you are only required to have a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification that confirms your age.
There is an additional 10% excise tax on recreational sales of cannabis in Michigan. There is also a 6% sales tax on all products sold, for 16% tax on recreational cannabis products.
Legal Consequences of Bringing Marijuana from Michigan into Ohio
If you are caught bringing medical marijuana illegally from Michigan into Ohio, you can be charged under Ohio laws. You can also face federal prosecution depending on where you are found in possession of cannabis products.
Ohio has some of the harshest penalties for possessing controlled substances or drugs. However, the state reformed penalties related to cannabis possession on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. The legislation was submitted by Senator Nathan Manning and signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
County prosecutors and city law directors can now apply for expungement for citizens that have a fourth-degree or minor misdemeanor cannabis drug offense. Possessing less than 100 grams of marijuana is now a minor misdemeanor, which carries a $150 fine.
Currently, if you possess cannabis without an Ohio medical marijuana card, you may be subject to the following legal penalties:
- >100 grams (3.527 ounces) but less than 200 grams (7.05 ounces) is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, carrying a jail sentence of up to thirty (30) days.
- 200 grams to 1,000 grams (7.05 ounces – 35.274 ounces) is a fifth-degree felony charge which can result in 6-12 months of incarceration.
- 20,000 to 40,000 grams (705 ounces to 1,410.95 ounces) is a second-degree felony offense with a possible sentence of five to eight years imprisonment.
- >40,000 grams of cannabis is a second-degree felony charge punishable by a minimum of eight years in prison.
Even though Michigan is a recreational marijuana state, transporting cannabis from Michigan to Ohio is both a state and a federal offense with punitive legal consequences. Even if you purchase and bring medical marijuana from Michigan and you have an Ohio medical card, it can get you into serious legal trouble if you travel home with it.
Federal Charges for Traveling With Cannabis
At the federal level, marijuana is still a controlled and prohibited substance. If you are apprehended with cannabis on federal lands, including national parks, interstate highways, or other modes of transportation, you can face a felony charge.
First time offenders charged with marijuana possession can face six months to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. If you are traveling with a higher quantity of cannabis, you may also face the risk of a trafficking charge, with increased legal penalties.
Medical marijuana patients do not have clemency because they have an Ohio medical card. The federal government does not currently recognize legal use for medical marijuana patients, regardless of state laws.
Qualifying for an Ohio Medical Marijuana Card
Under the existing medical marijuana program in Ohio, physicians can recommend certain routes or types of cannabis products for qualifying patients. To apply for a medical marijuana card in Ohio, you must have a certification from a licensed practitioner.
To join the patient registry, you must have one of the following qualifying health conditions in Ohio:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
- Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
- Crohn’s Disease.
- Epilepsy (or other types of seizure disorders).
- Hepatitis C.
- Huntington’s Disease.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Chronic, Severe, or Intractable Pain.
- Parkinson’s Disease.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Sickle Cell Anemia.
- Spinal Cord Disease or Injury.
- Terminal Illness (Hospice or End-of-Life Care).
- Tourette Syndrome.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
- Ulcerative Colitis.
In order to qualify for an Ohio medical card, a patient must be formally diagnosed with one of the qualifying health conditions. To retain your Ohio MMJ card, you must also have an annual follow-up appointment with a licensed marijuana doctor.
Cannabis Purchase Limits for Patients With an Ohio Medical Card
Patients who have an Ohio medical marijuana card have specific limits to the amount of cannabis they can purchase. The Ohio administrative code defines a minimum purchase quantity as a “Whole Day Unit,” as well as a maximum purchase quantity every 45 days and 90 days.
A whole day unit in Ohio is measured as:
- 1/10 oz or 2.83 grams of plant material (Dry Flower).
- 295 mg of THC in Topicals (transdermal patches, lotions or creams).
- 110 mg of THC in oil, tincture, capsule, or edible consumed by oral administration.
- 590 mg of THC oil for vaporizing (vape carts).
The Ohio medical marijuana program has a maximum limit to the amount of cannabis a patient can purchase. A 90-day maximum quantity and a 45-day refill period establish this.
The 90-day limit to purchase medical marijuana in Ohio is as follows:
- 9 oz or 254.7 grams of plant material (Dry Flower).
- 26.55 grams of THC in Topicals (transdermal patches, lotions, or creams).
- 9.9 grams of THC in oil, tincture, capsule, or edible consumed by oral administration.
- 53.1 grams of THC oil for vaporizing (vape carts).
Patients and caregivers are required to follow the maximum purchase and possession limits established in Ohio for compliance. Legal protections for patients with an Ohio medical marijuana card are available only when possession and purchase limits are in compliance with state laws.
Dr. Rothman is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has received multiple special awards and recognitions, including Physician of the Year, from the Pinellas County Medical Association (2014 – 2015) and the President’s Service Award from the Pinellas County Medical Society.
He attended medical school at State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, where he also completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Rothman’s professional career includes being an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida and Clinical Instructor at the University of Tampa’s College of Nursing.
Dr. Rothman received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2016 and was one of the first recommending physicians through DocMJ in the state and is loved by many of those early patients today.