FAQ Spotlight: Can I Go to A Dispensary Without A Medical Card?

For many years, medical cards were the only way to purchase cannabis products legally, but that’s not the case anymore — depending on your state. With laws changing and more cannabis options available than ever, it’s important to ensure you’re legally compliant before heading to the dispensary. Read on to learn what dispensaries you can and can’t visit without a medical card.

Can I Go to a Dispensary Without a Medical Card?

You do not need a government-issued medical card to enter or purchase from a recreational dispensary, but you do need one to enter or purchase from medical dispensaries. This contrast is because of state regulations on medical and recreational cannabis and specific product differences, such as strength and CBD levels.

In many states, such as Florida and Arkansas, the sale and usage of cannabis are only legal medically. This means you must have a medical card, usually issued by the state you’re in, to enter or purchase from dispensaries in these states.

In states where cannabis is legal both medically and recreationally, such as California and Massachusetts, you can enter and purchase from recreational dispensaries as long as you meet the legal age requirements. However, you will still need a state-issued medical card to enter medical dispensaries or purchase medical-use cannabis from recreational dispensaries in these states. Some recreational dispensaries even offer discounts on recreational cannabis if you present a medical card. 

Why Are Some States Different on Cannabis Laws?

In the United States, the production, sale, and usage of cannabis are not yet federally legal. However, most states have developed laws to legalize, ban, or decriminalize cannabis products. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996, while Colorado legalized recreational cannabis in 2012. At the time of this publication, 39 states have legalized medical cannabis, and 21 states have legalized recreational cannabis (plus Washington, D.C.).

Many states have specific state regulations on cannabis to be aware of. For example, in Massachusetts, you can only purchase up to one ounce of cannabis flower at once, while states like Michigan have larger possession limits of 2.5 ounces. Additionally, some local and city governments have their own laws that may restrict recreational dispensaries or cannabis use altogether. 

In What States Can I Buy Weed Recreationally?

At the time of this publication, recreational cannabis is legal in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Visiting a Boston Dispensary

In Boston, MA, you must be at least 21 with a valid I.D. to purchase cannabis without a medical card. However, individuals under 21 can buy medical cannabis if they have state-issued medical cards and approval from Massachusetts-licensed physicians — though these cases are rare. 

Dispensaries in Massachusetts and most other states only accept cash sales. Because of this, you should have cash on hand when you visit Boston dispensaries, though many dispensaries offer ATMs for cash back or other digital ways to pay. For example, Harbor House Collective uses Aeropay for fast, painless checkout. From edibles to pre-rolls, Harbor House Collective has an expanding variety of cannabis products. Visit our online shop to get started, whether you have a medical card or not. 

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