Quick Hit: What is a Cannabis Caregiver?

Cannabis caregiver

In this quick post, you'll learn what "caregiver" means in the cannabis industry, caregiver responsibilities, and how to compliantly serve them.

What is a cannabis caregiver?

At its core, a "caregiver" is someone who is designated to supply cannabis to an individual (patient) for medical purposes. The exact role that the caregiver plays, and how to become one, varies by state.

In most cases, caregivers help those who can’t access marijuana themselves, such as children who can’t go into a dispensary or those too sick to leave their home.

Who is considered a caregiver depends on the state. In Arizona, the medical marijuana patient designates their caregiver. But in California, a caregiver is anyone “who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.”

Caregiver responsibilities

The following are some general responsibilities of cannabis caregivers.

Note: This is an example list and may not be inclusive of all your state’s regulations.

  • Caregivers ensure the beneficiary of the medical cannabis has a doctor’s recommendation, unless their state allows adult-use. If the patient was approved for medical use of marijuana, make sure the card is renewed by the expiration date.

  • Cannabis caregivers in most states are designated by the patient. The caregiver may have multiple patients, but usually the patient will not have more than one caregiver. This relationship is important.

  • Caregivers must be able to access cannabis legally. This may be done by purchasing directly from a dispensary or by growing their own.

  • Many caregivers will provide transportation for their patients to and from doctors or dispensaries if they are too ill or otherwise unable to do so themselves.

  • Caregivers must follow the legal application process with their state agency to become designated. This process varies depending on the state.

Caregivers also have rules for what they can NOT do. Here are some general guidelines.

  • Cannabis caregivers cannot consume any of their patient’s cannabis or marijuana products. They cannot consume ANY cannabis unless they have a medical card or are located in a state that allows for adult-use.

  • Caregivers cannot cultivate cannabis for anyone besides those who are designated to receive it.

  • Caregivers cannot sell or give away any of their patient’s cannabis to anyone.

How to become a cannabis caregiver

The exact details and steps required to become a cannabis caregiver vary by state. Here are the basics of caregiver requirements/laws by state:

Alaska

Caregivers must be 21 years of age or older and cannot have a felony offense conviction and is not currently on probation or parole. Caregivers can only assist one patient, unless the caregiver is simultaneously caring for two or more patients that are family members of the caregiver.

Learn more

Arizona

Patients must submit an application to designate a caretaker. Caretakers must be 21 years of age or older and have not been convicted of an excluded felony offense. An individual may be a caretaker of no more than 5 patients. Registry identification cards for designated caretakers are $200 initially and for each renewal.

Learn more

California

Primary caregivers must be 18 years of age, and can include: the patient’s parent, or owner, operator, or employee of a licensed facility such as a clinic, hospice, or home health agency. An individual may be designated as a caregiver as many times as they choose, as long as the individuals designating them live in the same city or county as the caregiver.

Learn more

Colorado

Caregivers must be 18 years of age or older and a Colorado resident. There are four different caregiver designations available: cultivating (growing on behalf of patients), transporting, parents of a minor patient, and advising (advising on different medicinal uses). Only transportation and cultivation caretakers are required to register with the Department of Revenue.

Learn more

Florida

Caregivers must be 21 years of age and can assist no more than one qualified patient. Additionally, caregivers must be registered in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry through an application that costs $75. They also must pass a criminal background check, unless they are a close relative of the qualified patient.

Learn more

Illinois

Caregivers must be 21 years of age or older and a resident of Illinois. Qualifying patients under 18 may identify two caregivers, while patients over 18 may only use one. Caregivers are limited to assisting only one patient. The fee to register is $25 for a one year term, $50 for two year terms, and $75 for three year terms.

Learn more about Illinois caregivers

Learn more about fees

Maine

Primary caretakers include both individuals assisting patients as well as the designated dispensary to grow their medical cannabis. Individual caretakers are required to be 21 years of age or older. Primary caretakers are authorized to assist and cultivate, dispense, acquire, dispose, and any other services allowed under Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Learn more

Maryland

Caregivers must be 21 years of age or older and registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to receive their MMCC Caregiver ID card. ID cards are $50. Patients are permitted to have two caregivers at one time, while minor patients are required to only have one, and it must be a parent or legal guardian.

Learn more

Massachusetts

Personal caregivers must be 21 years of age or older and can serve only one patient unless an exception for a healthcare facility would apply. Patients are allowed to designate up to two personal caregivers. There is no fee to register as a caregiver through the medical program.

Learn more

Michigan

Primary caregivers must be at least 21 years old and cannot be convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs. Patients may only use one primary caregiver. Caregivers must follow the registration process with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) to secure an identification card.

Learn more

Missouri

Caregivers must be 21 years of age or older, and in the case of a minor, the caregiver must be their legal guardian or parent. Patients are allowed to have up to two caregivers, while caregivers may assist up to three different patients.

Learn more

Montana

Montana does not have an active primary caretaker or caregiver program. Provider licenses are available for businesses and individuals, and medical cannabis card holders may use the system of providers in the state to meet their medical needs.

Learn more

Nevada

Caregivers must be 18 years of age or older. Patients may only have one caregiver and caregivers may only assist one patient. Patients under 18 years of age may only designate a custodial parent or guardian as their primary caretaker.

Learn more

New Jersey

Caregivers must be a New Jersey resident and 18 years of age or older. Caregivers also must have a caregiver identification card, which carries a $100 fee or a reduced fee of $20 if the caregiver meets certain requirements (senior citizens, military veterans).

Learn more

New York

Designated caregivers can either be an individual or a dispensary, as New York expanded the ways for businesses to become designated caretakers. Caretakers must be designated by the qualified patient before registering with the Department of Health and being issued a registry identification card. There is a $50 application fee for caregiver registration, however that is currently being waived. Patients may have up to two caregivers, while caregivers can assist a maximum of 5 qualified patients.

Learn more about registration

Learn more about prohibitions and protections

Oklahoma

Medical marijuana caregiver licenses are available, with no price attached to the application. Patients are permitted one caregiver unless the patient is a minor. Caregivers will be provided an ID card to show at dispensaries, and patients can change caregivers at any time.

Learn more

Oregon

Designated primary caregivers must be 18 years of age and have a significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person with a debilitating medical condition. Patients are limited to only one caregiver.

Learn more

Disclaimer: This material has been compiled by Flowhub for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be and is not considered to be legal advice. This post is current as of 9/20/2021. Cannabis regulations are rapidly changing, and legal advice of any nature should be sought from legal counsel.

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Nick Rudy

Nick joined Flowhub in January 2020 with a passion for cultivating a safe, legal cannabis community and supporting the industry as it grows. Nick advocates for the retail cannabis community through content and social media efforts.