When researching the process of how to get a medical marijuana card in your home state, you’ve likely come across information regarding primary caregivers. What exactly is it that a primary caregiver does, however? And more importantly, how do you go about getting one if you feel that you need one?
In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about what is a primary caregiver, and outline the general steps you need to take if you are trying to get one assigned to you for your medical cannabis needs.
What is a Primary Caregiver for Medical Marijuana?
Simply put, a primary caregiver is an adult that is legally allowed to purchase, transport/deliver, and/or help administer medical cannabis to qualified patients with a valid MMJ card.
In states that have legalized medical marijuana programs and have allowed for the use of caregivers, legislation protects both the patient and the caregiver from state criminal penalties, as long as both are “operating” within the boundaries of the law.
Specific legislation varies from state to state, but there are typically a few legal stipulations for those who may be interested in becoming a caregiver, or designating a caregiver for their own personal use. Generally speaking, primary caregivers must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a resident of the state that the qualified patient resides in
- Have legally agreed to help the MMJ patient with their use of marijuana for medical purposes
Some states also require that the caregiver not be convicted of any prior criminal offense, and in most states, caregivers may only legally care for a maximum of five patients at any one time (some states only allow one patient to be designated per caregiver).
In any regard, it is usually the caregivers job to purchase medical cannabis for the patient, and they may also act legally on behalf of the patient, and therefore must be responsible for knowing the specific rules and legislation in the state with which they’re operating.
Moreover, primary caregivers typically have to complete a separate application than the qualified medical marijuana patient, and in most states this includes submitting an individual application fee and being responsible for annual renewals.
Lastly, the primary caregiver is legally bound to ONLY his or her medical marijuana patients; in other words, they may not as a caregiver purchase and/or deliver marijuana to any random patient with a valid MMJ card.
What are Marijuana Primary Caregivers Legally Allowed to do?
Again, this is something that will vary slightly from state to state, but generally speaking registered primary caregivers are allowed to:
- Acquire medical marijuana products (from licensed dispensaries) on the patient’s behalf
- Possess legal amounts of medical marijuana according to individual state limits
- Cultivate or grow marijuana on the patient’s behalf (if the state has implemented a cultivation program and the MMJ patient has been approved to grow/cultivate for personal use)
- Transport or deliver medical marijuana to the patient’s home or otherwise legal permanent address
Naturally, primary caregivers are not allowed to use the patient’s medical marijuana in any way, sell it to anyone (including their corresponding patients for profit), or transport it across state lines (unless given permission and documentation to do so by proper state authorities).
Can Primary Caregivers be Medical Marijuana Patients Themselves?
This is an interesting question, and in most cases, yes an individual who is a primary caregiver may also hold their own personal medical marijuana card and be a qualified MMJ patient.
In these unique instances, the primary caregiver would be legally allowed to purchase and possess medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries for two people – themselves and the patient that they care for.
However, this is not the case in all legalized states, so be sure to double check the specific laws according to the state that you live in.
Also, be advised that as a caregiver, you may NOT use the medical marijuana of your patient in any way, even if you suffer from one of the qualified medical conditions listed under the state’s MMJ program.
How do you get a Primary Caregiver – and how do you find one in your state?
In some instances, a primary caregiver will be either a family member or a close personal friend of the medical marijuana patient. In many instances, however, the primary caregiver will be a professional healthcare provider, typically a home health registered nurse.
Whatever the specific instance or relationship to the patient, as we pointed out earlier all primary caregivers will be required to complete their own application to the state’s MMJ program, separate from the patient’s application.
If you are interested in becoming a medical marijuana patient but don’t know anyone who may be able to act as your primary caregiver, be advised that all states with an MMJ program and an operating caregiver system have third-party organizations that specialize in designating and acting as caregivers for qualified patients.
There is no formal registry for these organizations, however, so finding a caregiver “operation” in your specific state will typically involve having to do some online research. The non-profit Americans for Safe Access Foundation has an incredibly well-established list of caregiver providers for each state with an operating MMJ program, so this would be a great place to start if you’re wondering how to get a primary caregiver in your specific state or region.
And of course, you can always get in touch with us here at WayofLeaf directly if you have any specific questions, or feel free to leave a comment below as often times other readers can provide excellent advice and recommendations.
Whatever your specific situation or scenario, don’t let the fact that you are immobile or cannot care for yourself deter you from the potential healing and therapeutic benefits or medical cannabis – do a little research, reach out for help, and find a caregiver that will legally be able to purchase and help you administer legal marijuana medication.
Medical Marijuana Primary Caregivers: Final Thoughts
As we said, it’s important to point out that each individual state with an operating MMJ program will have their own specific rules and regulations regarding the use of primary caregivers. When in doubt, research the specific laws in your home state, or feel free to check out our state-by-state guide to medical marijuana laws for more comprehensive information.
Medical marijuana has helped countless thousands of people cope with a wide variety of medical conditions and ailments, so don’t be afraid to reach out and find a caregiver that will be able to help you in your search for a safe, natural, plant-based therapy.
And if you’re concerned about using marijuana or “getting stoned,” be advised that there are many medical cannabis options that do not result in any sort of a high. Products like cannabis CBD oils or high-CBD edibles, for instance, can generally provide all of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without any of the stereotypical psychoactive effects.