Primary Caregivers and Medical Marijuana Law in California: Marijuana Caregiver Definition, License, and Laws

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 Medical Marijuana Primary Caregiver Laws in California

Marijuana is a greenish or gray mixture of dried flowers. Marijuana can be smoked in many different forms. The mind altering chemical in marijuana is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or (THC). Every state has different laws regarding the distribution of marijuana.

The Adult Use Marijuana Act allows adults over 21 years of age who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants. Generally, distributing marijuana over a certain amount to patrons is illegal. However as stated above, in the state of California there are certain exceptions for medical marijuana primary care caregivers.

In California, medical marijuana caregivers are allowed to distribute marijuana to their patients as long as they follow the California Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”). This act allows primary caregivers to escape criminal liability for the possession and cultivation of medical marijuana. However, in order to qualify under these exemptions the caregiver must ensure that they meet the requirements set by the California Compassionate Use Act. Listed below are further explanations and details about being a medical marijuana primary caregiver.

Who Can Qualify as a Medical Marijuana Primary Caregiver?

A medical marijuana patient can designate who they want to be their medical marijuana primary caregiver. However, there are certain rules to becoming a medical marijuana primary caregiver that must be followed.

Under California law, a medical marijuana primary caregiver must be at least 18 years old. They must “consistently assume responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of the patient,” and finally can be the primary caregiver of more than one patient only if the patients live in the same city or county as the primary caregiver.

What are the Requirements for a Primary Caregiver?

As stated above, there are certain requirements the state of California has put in place in order to be considered a primary caregiver. In order, to be considered a primary caregiver in California you must meet the legal definition of a primary caregiver and the person you are caring for must be entitled to medical marijuana use.

What is the Legal Definition of a Primary Caregiver under CUA?

Under California law, you must meet the legal definition of a primary caregiver in order to distribute medical marijuana legally. Below are the legal requirements of a primary caregiver:

  • You have been requested for that purpose by a legal medical marijuana user
  • You are consistently responsible for that person’s housing, health, and safety
  • The care you provide is different then what you give to the person in taking medical marijuana
  • You began taking care of the person at or before the time you assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana
  • You are over the age of 18
  • You are not the physician of the person you are caring for

How Much Medical Marijuana is a Primary Caregiver Allowed to Possess?

Although it is legal for a medical marijuana primary caregiver to distribute marijuana, the amount they can give is still capped. A medical marijuana primary caregiver is limited to how much cannabis they can distribute to their patients. This is to ensure there are some limits to how much can be distributed.

A prescribed medical marijuana patient and their primary caregiver are allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana and can maintain up to 6 mature or 12 immature plants. However, under some circumstances a doctor may write a prescription permitting the patient and caregiver to carry a greater amount reasonably related to the needs of the patient.

How Does One Prove They are a Primary Caregiver to Police?

Because being a medical marijuana primary caregiver is limited to individuals that pass the qualifications under state law, police officers may inquire about the status of their license to ensure all distribution is done legally and safely.

One method the police may use is to check for a state issued Identification Card. The most stable way to prove one’s status as a primary caregiver is to apply for a state issued medical marijuana Identification card through the California Department of Public Health. A primary caregiver that possesses a state issued medical marijuana Identification card will generally be protected from arrest and marijuana seizure. Having a state issued Identification card gives the officer an official legal document issued by the state which certifies that you as the primary caregiver can hold and distribute certain amounts of marijuana within the laws of California.

Another common method is to show a valid prescription or doctor’s note. While a prescription for doctors note is not as strong as protection as an Identification card it still offers some protection. A prescription or doctor’s note can protect someone from arrest and marijuana seizure.

However, these notes are less reliable than a state issued Identification card as police are granted more discretion in their determination of the validity of the prescription note. To conclude, while a doctor’s note offers some protection, a better and more secure protection is to have a state issued Identification card on hand.

Can Someone Serve as a Primary Caregiver for More than One Patient?

An individual may serve as a primary caregiver for more than one patient as long as the primary caregiver lives in the same city or county as the patients they serve. Some states have limits on how many patients that can be assisted so it is important to be precise. Serving more than one patient depends on the jurisdiction you are located.

For example, in the state of Michigan it is permitted to assist up to 5 patients and they must provide a statement agreeing to provide marijuana to only qualifying patients who have been named as their primary caregiver. If you have any further questions contact the California secretary of state.

Can a Primary Caregiver Receive Compensation for Their Services?

Like any business, primary caregivers are entitled to compensation for their services as long as they follow certain guidelines. A registered primary caregiver is permitted to receive compensation under two different circumstances.

When a primary caregiver is assisting qualifying patients for actual out of pocket expenses incurred through caregiving and any reasonable compensation for services provided to the patient. When compensation is gained through these two methods, it is not considered illegal if they are qualified to be a primary caregiver. To conclude, primary caregivers are entitled to receive compensation as long as it is limited to the options stated above.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Even though distribution of marijuana in California is illegal, it is still possible to distribute and cultivate cannabis legally if you are a primary caregiver. California marijuana laws for becoming a primary caregiver can be complex. That’s why if you have any questions about becoming a primary caregiver you should contact a California criminal lawyer.

A California drug attorney will advise you and represent you in a court of law. Furthermore, contacting a California criminal lawyer will help assure that you have your legal questions satisfied and can advise you on your options.

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