What happens when medical marijuana patients travel out of their home states? Many don’t
bring their marijuana on airplanes because they’re afraid it will be confiscated or worse, they’ll be arrested since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Many medical marijuana patients can’t travel without their marijuana, so visiting friends and family (even during an emergency) out of state is no longer an option for them.
There are six states with reciprocity rules that will honor out-of-state medical marijuana patients (Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island). Although the system is far from perfect, there is some hope for patients.
Interestingly, one person’s glimmer of hope is another’s opportunity. For some savvy entrepreneurs, tourism and reciprocity are the perfect fit.
The Business Opportunity of Reciprocity
Consider 420 Tours Las Vegas. While Nevada marijuana laws still make it very difficult to obtain medical marijuana licenses for residents, non-residents don’t face the same hurdles. Anyone with a California ID or U.S. passport can book a tour through 420 Tours Las Vegas to visit the marijuana dispensaries in the city. During the tour, they can connect with a California doctor live over video chat to get a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana in as few as five minutes.
It all happens in the back of the tripped out 30-foot Cannabus or SUV. With a doctor’s recommendation in hand, the Cannabus takes members of the tour group directly to a local dispensary to buy their marijuana.
Chris Kudialis of the Las Vegas Sun reports that for some Las Vegas marijuana dispensaries, nearly half of their clients are from out of state. Nevada Senator Tick Segerblom says the reciprocity law has attracted thousands of tourists to Nevada and is important to increase tourism. In fact, Sen. Segerblom claims to have encouraged the convention authority to promote reciprocity to out-of-state visitors.
Of course, with reciprocity also comes problems. Earlier this month, Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health sent a notice to all Nevada certified medical marijuana dispensaries that mentioned 420 Tours Las Vegas specifically. The notice reminded dispensaries that if they’re found selling medical marijuana to anyone using such a tour business who doesn’t comply with Nevada law, they could have their licenses revoked. While what 420 Tours Las Vegas is doing is legal, the onus is still on dispensaries to follow the rules.
Clearly, tourism and reciprocity are playing important roles in the marijuana economy. And yes, there are challenges. Even the six states that support reciprocity have different laws that make it an imperfect system, but as the surge in tourism to Nevada shows, reciprocity is good for business.
The Value of Marijuana Licenses in Reciprocity States
Without a doubt, the value of a marijuana license in a state that supports reciprocity is higher than the same license in a state that does not support reciprocity. It’s simple supply and demand. Sales in states that support reciprocity will be higher than in states that do not because the consumer market is bigger.
Look at what’s happening in Nevada. Thousands of tourists are going to Nevada at least in part to access marijuana. Whether it’s their primary reason for visiting the state or not is irrelevant. While they’re in Nevada, they’re seeking out and buying marijuana and increasing revenue for Nevada marijuana businesses.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.