What Is a Primary Caregiver for Medical Marijuana?

When researching the process of getting an MMJ card, 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 get such an individual if you feel that you need one?

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about a primary caregiver and outline the general steps to take if you are trying to get one assigned for your medical cannabis needs.

What Is a Primary Caregiver for Medical Marijuana?

A primary caregiver is an adult who is legally allowed to purchase, transport/deliver, and help administer medical cannabis to qualified patients with a valid MMJ card.

Many states have legalized medical marijuana programs and allowed for the use of caregivers. In these areas, legislation protects both the patient and the caregiver from state criminal penalties. That is, as long as both are operating within the boundaries of the law.

Specific legislation varies from state to state. However, there are a few legal stipulations for those who are interested in becoming a caregiver or designating a caregiver. Generally speaking, primary caregivers must be:

  • At least 21 years old
  • A U.S. citizen
  • A resident of the state that the qualified patient resides in

Also, they must legally agree to help the MMJ patient with their use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Some states also require that the caregiver does not have a criminal record. In most places, you can only legally care for a maximum of five patients at a time. Some states only allow one patient per caregiver.

It is usually the caregiver’s job to purchase medical cannabis for the patient. They may also act legally on behalf of the patient. As a result, they are responsible for knowing the specific rules and legislation in the state where they operate.

In general, they complete a separate application from the qualified medical marijuana patient. In most states, this includes submitting an individual application fee and being responsible for annual renewals.

Lastly, the primary caregiver is legally bound only to his or her medical marijuana patients. They may not act as caregivers or purchase or deliver marijuana to any random patient with a valid MMJ card.

The Legal Definition of a Primary Caregiver Varies According to the State

Here is a quick overview of one state to give you an inkling of what the law is like. According to the California Compassionate Use Act (CUA), you qualify as a primary caregiver if you:


  • Are designated for that purpose by a legal MMJ cardholder.
  • Are consistently responsible for that individual’s safety, health, and housing.
  • Provide care that is independent of the assistance you give the person in taking medical marijuana.
  • Start taking care of the person at or before the time you started being responsible for assisting with MMJ.
  • Are at least 18+ years of age.
  • Are not the physician of the person you are caring for.

As you can see, in California, you need to provide services beyond just assisting them with medical marijuana. It is important to note that the rules aren’t quite as strict in other states. Even so, it is clear that being a primary caregiver in some places involves a lot more than helping them medicate. In California, at least, primary caregivers can possess up to eight ounces and grow six mature or 12 immature plants. Not many states come close to allowing caregivers to carry so much weed!

What Are Marijuana Primary Caregivers Legally Allowed to Do?

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.
  • Grow marijuana on the patient’s behalf. This is if the state has implemented a cultivation program, and the MMJ patient is approved to grow 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. This means not selling it to anyone, including their corresponding patients, for profit. It is also illegal to transport it across state lines, as is the case for MMJ patients themselves.

Can Primary Caregivers Become Medical Marijuana Patients Themselves?

This is an interesting question, and in most cases, the answer is ‘yes.’ In many states, it is possible to have an MMJ card, and also act as a caregiver for a fellow cardholder.

In these unique instances, the primary caregiver can purchase and possess medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries for two people: themselves and the patient they care for. However, this is not the case in all legalized states. Make sure you double-check the specific laws in your state.

As a caregiver, you may not use the medical marijuana of your patient in any way. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions listed under the state’s MMJ program.

How Do You Find a Primary Caregiver in Your Home State?

In some instances, a primary caregiver is either a family member or a close personal friend of the patient. In many cases, however, the primary caregiver is a professional healthcare provider, typically a home health registered nurse.

The specific instance or relationship to the patient does not matter in terms of applying.  All primary caregivers are required to complete an application to the state’s MMJ program. It remains separate from the patient’s form.

Are you interested in becoming a medical marijuana patient but don’t know anyone who can act as your primary caregiver?  In this scenario, most MMJ programs with an operating caregiver system have third-party organizations. They specialize in designating and acting as caregivers for qualified patients.

There is no formal registry for these organizations, however. Therefore, finding a caregiver “operation” in your specific state involves online research. The non-profit Americans for Safe Access Foundation has a well-established list of caregiver providers for each state with an operating MMJ program. It is a great place to start if you’re wondering how to get a primary caregiver in your specific state or region.

Of course, you can always contact us here at WayofLeaf directly if you have any specific questions. Feel free to leave a comment below. In many cases, our knowledgeable readers can provide excellent advice and recommendations.

Whatever your specific situation or scenario, don’t let it deter you from the potential benefits of medical cannabis. Do a little research, reach out for help, and find a caregiver who can purchase weed and help you administer legal marijuana medication.

Medical Marijuana Primary Caregivers: Final Thoughts

Each state with an operating MMJ program has its own specific rules and regulations regarding the use of primary caregivers. When in doubt, research the particular laws in your home state. Alternatively, 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. You should try to find a caregiver that can help if you really need one.

Are you concerned about using marijuana and getting high? Don’t worry! Many medical cannabis options do not result in intoxication. Products like cannabis CBD oils or high-CBD edibles, for instance, can help you without causing you to get stoned.

Join The Discussion

By clicking "Post Comment” you agree with our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

DMCA.com Protection Status © 2000 - 2024 All Rights Reserved Digital Millennium Copyright Act Services Ltd. | DMCA.com

WayofLeaf use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. More Information