Becoming a Marijuana Caregiver

While medical marijuana has now been legalized in 23 states across the country, there are different rules and regulations that set each program apart. Of the states that have legalized medical marijuana, only Maryland has yet to mention any implementation of caregiving laws for patients who cannot readily obtain medicine.

A medical marijuana caregiver is defined as an individual who is solely responsible for the housing, health or safety of a registered medical marijuana patient. By law, a caregiver must be a legal adult that is aged eighteen or older, and must maintain the significant responsibility of managing the overall well-being of a patient who has been diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating condition.

Caregivers form a significantly vital part of the medical marijuana sector by providing patients with a facilitated service to greatly benefit their overall health. While states across the country have passed legislation to legalize medical cannabis, there is typically a grace period where a distribution program has yet to be implemented – delaying a patient safe-access to medicine. Under this circumstance, a caregiver is a patient’s only means of obtaining safe-access to medical marijuana.

Although not all medical marijuana patients need a professional medical marijuana caregiver, patient co-operatives are a viable alternative in certain states that have legalized. As always, patients should be fully aware of their respective state’s medical marijuana laws before buying, using, growing or consulting with a medical marijuana caregiver.

Once a patient has contacted their primary caregiver – or if the caregiver has been issued to the patient – it is imperative that the caregiver possess a medical marijuana registry identification card. This card is responsible for steering them clear from any situations regarding arrest, prosecution, or criminal penalties. Patients and caregivers that are registered within a respective state’s Department of Health’s may possess a limited amount of marijuana without violating state law.

A patient’s medical marijuana caregiver must also be present at the time of the patient’s medical marijuana evaluation with their primary care physician in order to ensure a bona fide relationship concerning the two parties. Additionally, a caregiver who has not obtained valid identification may be arrested and charged for possession by state or local authorities, even if their activities would otherwise be considered legal under their respective state’s medical marijuana bylaws.


A caregiver is any person who has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient.  Potential medical marijuana patients may designate a “primary caregiver” as part of their application for a New York medicinal marijuana card.