Updated on June 28, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As your parent becomes older, their need for assistance and care will probably grow. Many children choose to have parents live with them, or they participate actively in their care — even if they live in their own home or an assisted living facility. It’s a simple matter to pick up your parent’s prescription medications from the local pharmacy. They merely authorize you to do so, and the deal is done. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy with medical marijuana. Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legalized for medical use, you are probably wondering if you can pick up your elderly parent’s medical marijuana to take to them.
The simple answer is no. Even if your parents possess a medical marijuana card, that doesn’t mean you can use that to pick up their cannabis medications for them at a nearby dispensary. These locations are equipped with security measures to ensure that only authorized patients can purchase cannabis products.
Even if you are somehow able to procure cannabis for your parent, marijuana is federally banned making possessing it a crime for non-patients in many states. However, there are other options available to ensure your parents get the medical marijuana they need to ease their debilitating symptoms.
Dispensary Delivery Service
In many states, dispensaries are allowed to deliver medical marijuana straight to the front door of their customers. This is an excellent option for elderly patients who find it difficult to travel to the store to pick up their products. The only catch with this option is that most dispensaries will require your parent to go to the dispensary at least once to verify their status as a medical marijuana patient. You can always drive them to the dispensary, but once you get there, they will have to take care of the paperwork on their own, as non-patients are usually not allowed inside.
However, once this initial step is complete, you can help your parents order their cannabis medications online and wait for it to arrive. Before taking advantage of this option, be sure to check if your parent’s dispensary offers a delivery option and ensure they have met the prerequisites for participating.
Become Your Parent’s Medical Cannabis Caregiver
All states with medical marijuana laws allow patients to designate a caregiver. This individual can acquire their cannabis medications from a dispensary, legally transport the plant and administer the dosage as needed. In some states, caregivers are even allowed to cultivate a set number of marijuana plants for the patient’s use. However, choosing to become your parent’s medical marijuana caregiver can get a little complicated. Cannabis is only legal in just over half of the states in this country. And even when legal, it’s still considered an unregulated medicine.
Thankfully, when you apply to become your parent’s legal medical marijuana caregiver, you are protected from legal prosecution, just as the patients belonging to their state’s medical cannabis program. If you feel this would be a good option for you and your parent, here are some things you should be aware of:
Know Your State’s Requirements and Laws: Although all states allow for medical cannabis caregivers, the requirements and laws vary depending on where you live. Initially, you will have to go through an application process similar to what your parents completed to become medical marijuana patients. So, it’s essential for you to research your state’s qualifications on how to become a caregiver. Additionally, caregivers are subject to the same state restrictions as patients, so it’s best to be aware of the ins and outs of the medical marijuana laws in your region.
Never Consume a Patient’s Cannabis: Unless your state allows the recreational use of marijuana, caregivers are not allowed to consume the cannabis intended for the one they’re caring for. If you use your parent’s medical marijuana, you could be subject to severe legal penalties.
Research How Best to Work With the Herb: Becoming your parent’s caregiver means more than obtaining their cannabis medication. You will also be expected to help them medicate with the herb. Unfortunately, there is little information to inform caregivers on how best to do this. More and more physicians are becoming knowledgeable about cannabis, and they may recommend different dosage amounts. However, professionals in the medical community are still in the dark about the best medicating practices. That means it will be up to you to do your research. There is a lot of information on this topic online — including our resources page — that you can use to educate yourself about different strains and ingestion methods that are best for various conditions.
Hire a Medical Marijuana Caregiver
If you feel you’re not the best person to be your parent’s caregiver, there is another option. You can hire a qualified individual to work as a caregiver in your stead. A medical marijuana caregiver will do everything you would do, such as picking up their medication and helping administer the proper dosage. Many of these individuals work with several clients, so they are well-versed in the best methods and applications of cannabis use. Some even have the advantage of medical experience.
If you’re considering hiring outside help and appointing someone else as a caregiver, here are some questions you may want to ask them:
Do you have any medical experience or training?
How many patients have you worked with in the past?
How many patients are you currently caring for?
Do you fully understand our state’s medical marijuana laws?
Are you experienced with obtaining cannabis medications from a dispensary? Do you understand the process?
Do you know how to store different types of cannabis products properly?
Are you able to assist with all cannabis medication methods, such as vaporizing, edibles or smoking?
Have you been convicted of any drug-related offense?
Have you ever had a substance abuse problem?
Start With a Medical Marijuana Recommendation From a Qualified Physician
If your parent is not yet part of your state’s medical marijuana program, the first step is to visit a marijuana doctor near you. Not only will they assess your parent’s condition to see if they qualify for the cannabis program, but they may also have advice about how best to obtain your parent’s medical marijuana medications.