A primary caregiver is an adult that 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 a caregiver 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
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.
Cultivate or 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.