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Lifestyle, Politics

Why Cannabis Caregivers Exist and How They’re Regulated

Ashley Priest

by Ashley Priest

July 23, 2020 07:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Why Cannabis Caregivers Exist and How They’re Regulated

A cannabis caregiver is a relatively new thing for many people. In States like California, the definition of a caregiver is someone “who has constantly assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.” Hop over a little way into Arizona, and a caregiver is defined differently. According to Arizona revised statutes section 36 – 2804. 02a caregiver is somebody who has been officially designated as a caregiver by a qualified patient and meats certain minimum standards.”

The role that a caregiver plays with a medical cannabis patient depends on what state you live in. Laws vary, however, no matter the state, the primary job of a cannabis caregiver is to supply medical cannabis to a patient who has received the proper doctor’s recommendation and state medical cannabis license.

The rules and regulations pertaining to medical marijuana caregivers vary state-by-state and can be a little confusing. If you consider taking on the role or looking to find out if you can appoint a caregiver in your state, the best option is to go to the state website and learn more about appointing a caregiver or becoming one. 

The Many Benefits of a Caregiver

A cannabis caregiver plays a vital role in a patient’s life. A patient will appoint an individual to become their caregiver, and that person grows medical Cannabis for the patient. When a patient finds a caregiver with impeccable skills, the medicine produced is unlike anything you can purchase from dispensaries.

Cost Efficiency

Having a caregiver is also much more cost-efficient than purchasing Cannabis from a licensed dispensary. On average, it is estimated that a military veteran treating PTSD would need to spend $50 a day on cannabinoid-based medicines to obtain the small amount of product required for relief. Unfortunately, unlike the addictive and harmful pharmaceuticals, they are so widely prescribed cannabinoid medicines are not covered by insurance, so all costs are out of pocket. Having a caregiver for those who are unable to grow their own can be much more cost-efficient for patients 


The quality of cannabis that patients receive is also typically of higher quality as caregivers grow in small batches explicitly tailored to their patients’ specific needs. Many caregivers are very experienced in growing a small number of strains to perfection rather than merely being able to grow mass numbers of plants and producing an inferior product. 

Having What Works

One of the benefits for medical cannabis patients having a caregiver is that they don’t run out of the cannabis that works for them. In a market with legal access to cannabis dispensaries, a patient is at the mercy of what is available. It’s sort of like insulin. If a person with diabetes was using insulin regularly, and suddenly had to change to a different brand, they may notice side effects. Even worse, the new insulin might not work the same.

When a medical cannabis patient finds a particular strain that works for them, they typically stick with it. When a dispensary runs out and no longer has that strain, they have to choose another option. This is not the case when a medical cannabis patient has a caregiver. That caregiver knows the specific strain or strains the patient needs and provides them on a regular and continuous basis. Caregivers put the care into giving medical cannabis patients the care they deserve.

Cannabis Caregivers and the Law by State – Which Are the Best?

Let’s take a look at some of the various laws surrounding caregivers in various states throughout the U.S.

Number of Patients per Caregiver

Number of Patients Per Caregiver US

At maximum, how many patients can a caregiver in each of the following state medical marijuana programs be designated to and provide a varying range of assistance to within their state’s regulatory limits?

The below data set was collected only from states with comprehensive medical marijuana programs and further excludes any states where the laws only allow the medical use of ‘hemp-derived,’ ‘low THC,’ ‘CBD-only’ products or similar regulations. States that do not have medical dispensaries actively open yet were also excluded.

STATE: Number of Patients Per Caregiver:
Alaska 1
Arizona 5
Arkansas No Limit Mentioned
California 5
Colorado 5
Connecticut 1*
Delaware 5
District of Columbia 1
Florida 1*
Hawaii 1
Illinois 1
Louisiana 1*
Maine 5
Maryland 5
Massachusetts 1*
Michigan 5
Minnesota 1
Montana 3
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 5*
New Jersey 1
New Mexico 4
New York 5
North Dakota 5
Ohio 2
Oklahoma No Limit Mentioned
Oregon No Limit Mentioned+
Pennsylvania 5
Rhode Island 5
Vermont 1
Washington 1

Caregiver Data Last Updated July 23, 2020

* Indicates that in most cases it is the written amount, but there are special cases where more than one patient can be designated to a single caregiver. Exemptions to these ‘one-patient only’ regulations exist in cases where an employee of a hospice provider or a similar medical facility provides care to multiple patients in said facilities, like in Massachusetts. Additionally, in some instances, like in Connecticut, a caregiver has to be a parent or legal guardian of the patient. This also adds an element where a certain state could allow more than one caregiver to a parent of multiple medical cannabis patients. A final contingency, like New Hampshire, is if the qualifying patients, up to a maximum of 9, all live greater than 50 miles from the nearest dispensary.

+ Indicates that there are no limits mentioned for caregivers as the people that can purchase products from a dispensary for patients, but different regulations exist for growers per patient. 

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