Currently, an impressive 37 states allow residents to use medical marijuana. This number is up significantly from even just a few years ago, and more and more people are gaining access to cannabis every month.
As wonderful as this is, it can be a little confusing to navigate the rules. Understanding what your qualifying medical condition (epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, etc.) is, figuring out where to get a med card, and finding out what ages are allowed is a learning process.
The regulations for obtaining a medical marijuana card can vary widely from state to state. To provide clarity, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs related to age requirements in the application process. Follow along as we break down how old you have to be to get a med card in each state.
Already 18? Here’s How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card
The first step to obtaining a medical card is to meet with a cannabis-friendly doctor who will register you as a patient in your state’s medical marijuana program.
Many states offer telemedicine appointments. You can find a doctor in your state here. Remember to bring your driver’s license and proof of residency for identification purposes, as well as any required application fees.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Age Requirements by State
As stated above, the age requirement to qualify for medical marijuana varies depending 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 or designated caregiver:
Note: In every state, you must receive patient certification for a qualifying condition to obtain an MMJ card.
Alabama: Residents must be 19 or older to receive a medical marijuana card. Minor patients must have a caregiver over the age of 21.
Alaska: Residents must be 18 years old to get a medical card without a caregiver. Caregivers need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card for minors.
Arizona: Anyone can get a medical card in Arizona, but patients under 18 will need a caregiver over 21 to purchase products for them.
Arkansas: Residents must be 18 years old to get their medical card or have a parent, guardian, or other caregiver over 21.
California: Residents under 18 will need an approved caregiver over 21 to get a medical marijuana card in this state.
Colorado: State residents who are 18 years old can receive a medical marijuana card for themselves or to take care of a maximum of five minors under their supervision.
Connecticut: Residents must be 18 years old to get a medical card in Connecticut, but some exceptions are made for minors with qualifying conditions.
Delaware: To obtain a medical marijuana card, a resident of this state must be 18 years old or have a parent or guardian who can purchase products for them.
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. People 21 and older can self-certify for medical marijuana.
Florida: Florida residents who are 18 years or older can get a medical marijuana card. Minors can apply with the approval of a parent or guardian.
Hawaii: In Hawaii, an 18-year-old resident can be a caregiver to one minor 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. Otherwise, you must be 18 to get your own card.
Kentucky: You must be 18 years old to get a medical card or have a registered caregiver over 21 in Kentucky.
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. Other patients must be 18 or older to get their medical cards.
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 18 years or older can register for a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts, and those 21 and over can provide care for a minor who needs medical cannabis.
Michigan: In Michigan, medical marijuana caregivers must be 18 years old to obtain their registration card or 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.
Mississippi: Residents of Mississippi must be 18 or older to apply for a medical card without parental consent. Caregivers must be 21.
Missouri: Once you turn 18 in Missouri, you can apply for your medical card without consent from your parents or guardians. Caregivers must be 21. 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.
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 21-year-old resident of this state 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 up to five minors.
New Jersey: Residents who want to buy 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 under 19 years old.
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. This state requires all caregivers to be aged 18 years or older and living within the state of Oklahoma to register and assist a minor with therapeutic cannabis legally. 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 or use it to obtain medication for minors.
Pennsylvania: The regulations in Pennsylvania allow residents who are 21 years or older to serve as caregivers for minors who need medical cannabis. Some exceptions are made for caregivers between 18 and 21.
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 old. Like other states, you will need a government-issued photo ID card and one or more qualified health diagnoses. To be a caregiver, you must be 21.
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 for themselves or a minor.
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 21 years or older can act as a caregiver for one minor who needs medical cannabis.
Virginia: You must be 18 or older to apply for your own medical marijuana card or become a caregiver for a minor.
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 21 years old to obtain marijuana for qualified minors.
Why Do You Have to Wait Until You’re 18 to Get a Medical Card?
While cannabis is acknowledged as a safe alternative medicine for adults, some clinical studies raise concerns regarding minors. Some research has 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.
This process ensures that medical marijuana is the last therapeutic resort when other treatments have not worked.
Cannabis and Puberty: Tweens and Teens at Higher Risk of Cognitive and Mood Disorders
Teens who use cannabis are also at risk for developmental problems because the neurological system (brain) continues to develop until they’re about twenty years old. 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.
Can You Enter a Dispensary at 18?
In states where recreational weed is legal, you have to be 21 or older to enter a dispensary.
However, you can get your medical card before you turn 21 if you have a qualifying health condition and without parental consent. At this point, you can enter a dispensary before 21.
Can You Use Your Medical Marijuana Card in a Different State?
You can use your medical marijuana card in a different state if your state participates in a reciprocity agreement. Reciprocity agreements allow patients with out-of-state certifications to buy medical marijuana products in states with similar laws.
Note that not all states have reciprocity agreements. Make sure to research the specific regulations of the state you’re visiting before you plan to purchase marijuana there.
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 registration process entirely online. 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.