Medical Marijuana Age Requirement
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/17/2018 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on June 28, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Currently, many states in the U.S. allow residents to possess medical marijuana. The age requirement for medical marijuana is 18 years in these states, so adults with qualifying medical conditions can use the limited number of ounces allowed in each state for medical use. However, the regulations for obtaining a medical marijuana card or a “weed card” differ from state to state.
In 2021, there are thirty-six states that have passed medical marijuana laws. That makes it legal for patients who have a qualifying health condition to use medical cannabis legally. The age requirement for medical marijuana is eighteen (18) years. And anyone under the age of 18 is required by law to have legal permission from a parent or guardian.
If you are eighteen or older, you may be thinking about getting your medical card. Many states provide telemedicine health evaluations. That is the first step to getting your medical marijuana card. And if a doctor approves you, you can register as a patient in your state medical marijuana program.
In states where recreational weed (or adult-use) has been legalized, you have to be twenty-one or older. You can’t buy cannabis from a dispensary if you are under the age of 21. But many people don’t know that you can get your medical card before you turn twenty-one if you have a qualifying health condition and without parental consent.
Why Do You Have to Wait for The Age of Eighteen to Get a Medical Card?
While cannabis is acknowledged as a safe alternative medicine for adults, some clinical studies raise concerns regarding minors. Researchers have suggested that cannabis use may have an adverse (or negative) effect on cognitive development during the early adolescent years.
The process for approving minors to use medical cannabis is extremely strict. In some states, it requires the approval of a pediatrician, the primary care provider (PCP), and a parent or legal guardian. That is to ensure that medical marijuana is the last therapeutic resort when other treatments have not worked for a child with chronic health conditions.
Cannabis and Puberty: Tweens and Teens at Higher Risk of Cognitive and Mood Disorders
Teens that use cannabis are also at risk for developmental problems. That is because the neurological system (brain) continues to develop until about twenty years. And early use of cannabis can contribute to a higher risk of developing the following mental health disorders:
- Psychotic illnesses and impairments
When parents choose medical cannabis as a caregiver for a child, other alternatives haven’t worked. However, cannabis is not recommended for adolescents under the age of twenty-one to avoid the risk of developing mental health disorders. And some studies suggest that early tweens and teens are more at risk when they consume cannabis while undergoing puberty.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Age Requirements by State
As stated above, the age requirement to qualify for medical marijuana vary depends on the state in which a person lives. Here is a list of the legal states, along with the regulations and age requirements for accessing cannabis as a patient and as a caregiver:
What Are The Marijuana Age Requirements by State?
While medical mara laws vary significantly by state, there is consistency regarding the minimum age requirement. Every adult over the age of eighteen (18) years may qualify for a medical card. If the state of residence has a medical marijuana program, and if the patient has one or more qualified health conditions:
- Alaska: Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need marijuana for medical use.
- Arizona: Residents must be 18 years old to obtain their medical marijuana card to take care of underage patients under their supervision.
- Arkansas: Residents need to be up to 21 years of age to get a medical cannabis card to serve as caregivers to any minor who requires marijuana for medical use.
- California: Residents who have reached the age of 18 years can apply for and receive a medical marijuana card from taking care of the needs of minors.
- Colorado: State residents who are 18 years old can receive a medical marijuana card to take care of a maximum of five minors under their supervision.
- Connecticut: Any resident who is 18 years old can obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to treat a minor who has a condition that qualifies for the use of medical cannabis.
- Delaware: To obtain a medical marijuana card, a resident of this state must be 18 years old, and the card may be used to purchase medical cannabis for a minor.
- District of Columbia: An 18-year-old resident of Washington D.C. can register as a caregiver to take care of a minor who needs medical marijuana.
- Florida: Florida residents who have attained 18 years can apply to get a medical cannabis recommendation to take care of a minor in their care.
- Hawaii: In Hawaii, an 18-year-old resident can be a caregiver to one patient eligible to enjoy medical marijuana treatment.
- Illinois: Residents of Illinois who want to serve as caregivers to a qualifying minor must be 21 years or older.
- Louisiana: Adults aged 18 years or older may apply for a medical card without the consent of a guardian. Patients under the age of 18-years must have a registered caregiver who is 21-years of age or older and a Louisiana resident. Minors with caregivers are also required to have a pediatric referral from a sub-specialist provider. Caregivers may purchase up to a 30-day supply of non-smokable cannabis for children in their care. Metered-dose inhalers are also available for minors through pharmacies approved by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.
- Maine: In Maine, the minimum age for medical marijuana caregivers who need to obtain cannabis for a minor is 21 years.
- Maryland: To apply for a medical marijuana card to care for a minor in need of cannabis in Maryland, residents need to be at least 21 years old.
- Massachusetts: Residents aged 21 years or older can register for a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts and provide care for a minor who needs medical cannabis.
- Michigan: In Michigan, medical marijuana caregivers must be 21 years old to obtain their registration card and obtain cannabis for minors.
- Minnesota: Residents of Minnesota must be 18 years old before they can be in possession of medical marijuana and act as caregivers for minors who need it.
- Missouri: Once you turn 18 years of age in the state of Missouri, you can apply for your medical card independently or without consent from parents or guardians. Referrals from primary care providers (PCPs) for a medical card are only valid for 30-days and must be uploaded to the Missouri Department of Health website within that period to apply to become a registered patient. The new Missouri Medical Marijuana Program allows caregivers to download and print their medical cards online.
- Montana: Did you know that Montana was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2004? In November 2020, more than 57% of Montana residents voted to legalize recreational (adult-use) cannabis. A resident of this state, who is also a minor’s legal guardian, may apply for a medical marijuana card and obtain cannabis for a minor.
- Nevada: An 18-year-old resident of Nevada can register as a caregiver and get medical marijuana for an underage patient.
- New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, residents who have reached 21 years can register as medical marijuana caregivers for five minors.
- New Jersey: Residents who want to buy and keep medical marijuana for minors in New Jersey must be 18 years or older.
- New Mexico: Residents must be at least 18 years old before they’re allowed to apply as caregivers for minors who need medical marijuana.
- New York: Residents who are 21 years old can provide care for a maximum of 5 minors who need medical marijuana.
- North Dakota: The minimum age for caregivers in North Dakota is 21 years. Each caregiver must obtain a medical cannabis card to get medical marijuana for minors who are less than 19 years of age.
- Ohio: In Ohio, anyone who wants to get medical marijuana for a minor must be 21 years or older.
- Oklahoma: The age of legal majority in Oklahoma is 18-years. So, residents of the state of Oklahoma can get medical cards after they turn 18. The Boomer Sooner state requires all caregivers to be aged 21-years or older and living within the state of Oklahoma to legally register and assist a minor with therapeutic cannabis. For more information, visit the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA).
- Oregon: Residents in Oregon must be 18 years old to get their registration card for medical marijuana and use it to obtain medication for minors.
- Pennsylvania: The regulations in Pennsylvania allow residents who are 18 years or older to serve as caregivers for minors who need medical cannabis.
- Rhode Island: To serve as a caregiver for a total of five patients, residents of Rhode Island need to be 21 years old to obtain a recommended dose of medical marijuana.
- South Dakota: You can get a medical card in South Dakota at 18-years. Like other states, you will need government-issued photo identification, one or more qualified health diagnoses. South Dakota was the first state to legalize both medical cannabis and recreational (adult-use) at the same time, during the November 2020 constitutional amendment vote.
- Texas: The state of Texas has been one of the most prohibitive medical cannabis programs in America. But that is changing. In May 2021, the cap on THC was raised from 0.50% to 5% for patients in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). Chronic pain, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were added in 2021 as new qualifying health conditions in Texas. Patients must be age 18 or older to apply independently, without parental consent. In 2021, there is still no caregiver program in Texas. Minors can be prescribed medical cannabis by doctors, and the prescription is filled at select pharmacy locations that specialize in compounding cannabis tinctures (oils).
- Utah: Minors who need medical marijuana in Utah must have the assistance of a caregiver if they are under the age of 18 years. The caregiver must be 21-years or older and must be issued a “provisional patient card” by the Utah Compassionate Use Board.
- Vermont: A resident of Vermont who is 18 years or older can act as a caregiver for a minor who needs medical cannabis.
- Virginia: Caregivers in Virginia must be registered and live at the same residence as the minor, a registered patient in the Virginia medical cannabis program. Each parent must be registered if more than one provides for care at the same residential address, with the Virginia Department of Health Professions.
- Washington: In Washington, residents who are 21 years old can apply to become caregivers to just one minor who has obtained a medical marijuana card.
- West Virginia: Caregivers for eligible minors must be 18 years old to get their medical cannabis card and obtain marijuana for qualified children who need the medication.
- Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services registered caregivers to provide medicinal cannabis to minors under 19 years. The caregiver program includes parents, guardians, and nurse aides who provide healthcare facilities regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Quality Assurance (DQA).
Find a Nearby Marijuana Doctor
Ready to take the next step and apply for your medical card? If you live in a state where telemedicine is available, you may be able to complete the process entirely online. No waiting. No visit to the doctor’s office is required.
Patients can find out if they qualify for medical marijuana by talking with a reliable cannabis doctor in their area.