Updated on June 28, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Seniors have varying care needs that sometimes change suddenly and frequently. Accidents become more dangerous as someone ages, and people become more vulnerable to chronic conditions over time. However, physical and cognitive disabilities interfere with access to medical marijuana care. Whether you consider yourself a senior or have a loved one in their older years, you may wonder how to handle treatment in these situations. Not everyone can get their cannabis medicine on their own.
Fortunately, most states allow registered medical marijuana patients to assign a caregiver. Designating a caregiver for yourself or someone you care about will let you or the patient have access to life-changing medicine.
What Is a Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
A designated caregiver has the legal right to handle someone’s marijuana medicine on their behalf. The official term for a caregiver varies in certain states. For example, Florida calls them “legal representatives” instead. No matter the name, caregivers can receive the rights to:
Buy Medicine From a Dispensary: In states with dispensaries, caregivers can often buy medicine for their patient. They can buy a product and take it back to the patient.
Grow Marijuana Plants: Certain caregivers can grow cannabis for the patient’s treatment. They generally have to follow the same restrictions as patients who can raise marijuana on their own.
Own and Transport Cannabis: Naturally, a caregiver must have the right to possess marijuana to manage it for their patient. They can have cannabis and move it to other places within the state. Federal law makes moving cannabis across state lines illegal, no matter where you live.
The legal rights of caregivers have one main difference from the rights of patients. A caregiver cannot use medical marijuana unless they have permission through other means. For example, if a caregiver over 21 lives in a state with recreational marijuana, they can buy it with their money and use it legally. However, they would not have the right to do that in a state without recreational laws. Even in recreational states, a caregiver cannot use medical-grade marijuana products.
How Do Designated Caregivers Help Patients?
A caregiver’s legal options for helping the patient vary from state to state. Caregivers can offer the following kinds of assistance to patients:
Getting Medicine: A caregiver obtains medication by growing it, buying it or using a combination of both sources. They then bring it to the patient’s home or care facility, unless they grow it where the patient lives.
Taking Care of Medical Products: Cannabis medicine has varying storage needs. The caregiver must learn how to keep their patient’s medication in good condition.
Making Medical Decisions: Some patients can’t make informed medical decisions on their own. The caregiver uses a doctor or dispensary’s guidance to choose a medicine that will relieve the patient’s symptoms.
Following the Law: Marijuana regulations can cause confusion and anxiety. Some caregivers help their patients by ensuring that all the activities they do with the patient follow the law.
Administering Medicine: Certain caregivers help patients with disabilities take their medication as directed.
Why Should I Consider Appointing a Caregiver?
The reasons why you may get a caregiver depend on your situation. Patients and trusted loved ones name caregivers because:
A Loved One Lives Far Away From the Patient: If you have a relative in need of assistance with their medicine, you might not live close enough to them to help. In this situation, an official caregiver handles the medical marijuana-related aspects of care.
Mobility or Cognition Get in the Way of Care: Even if you or your loved one can get to the dispensary sometimes, some disabilities make it very hard. A caregiver provides consistent access to medicine, no matter how you feel that day.
You Need Peace of Mind and Less on Your Plate: Children and other relatives who take care of a senior often have other obligations. Asking someone to help with your loved one’s medical marijuana treatment takes some of the stress away without the cost of a full-time caregiver for general needs.
A Professional Caregiver Understands Cannabis Medicine: Some states allow hired medical marijuana caregivers. These professionals know medical marijuana laws better than the average person.
Who Do I Designate as a Caregiver?
Your caregiver options depend on your state, but they can include:
What Does the Caregiver Application Process Involve?
Every state has a unique caregiver registration process. Some take a little extra effort and money, while others need you to complete more steps. Before completing a caregiver application, you should look into your program’s policies. When you research the rules where you live, remember to consider:
Extra Fees: The majority of patient applications include a fee, and so do plenty of caregiver registrations. In some cases, you only have to pay a small extra charge, while other states require a similar fee to the patient fee.
Proof of Registration: A lot of states that issue ID cards for registered patients also give them to caregivers. If your state doesn’t have licenses, learn which document will prove the caregiver’s status.
Necessary Paperwork: Assigning a caregiver can involve another doctor signature or an extra page. Others require you to fill out an entirely new form.
Learn About Medical Cannabis Caregivers in Your State
You can find your state’s medical marijuana policies without leaving MarijuanaDoctors.com. We provide information guides for every state, whether they have legal cannabis medicine or outlaw it. Choose your state to discover general information, laws, the application process and more.