Do you have a loved one who qualifies for medical marijuana but cannot visit dispensaries themselves? If this is the case, you may consider becoming a PA medical marijuana caregiver to retrieve their medical marijuana for them.
In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana has been legal since 2016. Pennsylvania also recognizes many different medical conditions as valid reasons for having access to medical marijuana, and some of these conditions can make it extremely difficult for the patient to visit a dispensary on their own.
This is where a caregiver comes into the picture. The goal of a medical cannabis caregiver is to help ensure that all medical marijuana patients have access to their medical cannabis. Without caregivers, individuals who cannot visit a dispensary would be unable to get the medicine they need to help treat their symptoms.
So, if you are considering registering as a medical marijuana caregiver, keep reading to find out the responsibilities, how to register, and where you can get started today.
What Is a Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
A medical marijuana caregiver can be any significant other that a patient designates. Typically, this would be a legal guardian, spouse, family member, or friend. All medical marijuana caregivers must be at least 21 years of age unless specifically authorized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
In Pennsylvania, three categories of patients need a caregiver to register on their behalf and visit dispensaries for them. These are:
- Minor patients who are under the age of 18.
- Adult patients who are home-bound.
- Adult patients who require assistance (i.e., are non-verbal, do not make their own decisions, etc.).
Who Can Become a PA Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
As mentioned above, a medical caregiver can be designated by the medical marijuana patient. But, to become a medical marijuana caregiver, you must be over the age of 21 and meet one of the following criteria.
- Designated as the medical marijuana caregiver by the patient (either personally or through the PA medical marijuana system).
- Parent, legal guardian, or spouse of a patient who is under the age of 18.
- Is designated to be the medical marijuana caregiver by a parent, legal guardian, or spouse of a patient.
A patient may have up to two caregivers. Caregivers must also register in the medical marijuana registry, complete a criminal background check, and receive identification cards to collect a patient’s medical marijuana.
Can a Medical Marijuana Caregiver Serve Multiple Patients?
Yes. Each patient may have up to two caregivers, but each caregiver may have up to five patients.
What Medical Conditions Can Qualify for Medical Marijuana?
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are twenty-three medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana. Some of these conditions are more common than others, but if you or a loved one suffers from any of the below conditions, you qualify for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.
These medical conditions are:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cancer, including remission therapy
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord)
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
- Tourette’s Syndrome
What Does a Medical Marijuana Caregiver Do?
If you are considering becoming a PA medical marijuana caregiver, you likely want to know your responsibilities. Realistically, all a medical marijuana caregiver must do in Pennsylvania is pick up medical cannabis from a local dispensary and deliver it to their patient.
While this does not seem like a lot of responsibility or tasks, it is essential for many patients who qualify for medical marijuana but cannot get to the dispensary themselves — whether that be because of an injury, disability, age restriction, or anything else.
Medical marijuana caregivers are NOT allowed to use their caregiver card to get medical cannabis for themselves. For this, they would need to register as a patient with the PA Department of Health.
How to Become a PA Medical Marijuana Caregiver
Becoming a medical marijuana caregiver in Pennsylvania is pretty simple. All you need to do is register on the Department of Health website, pass a background check, and pay the fee for your ID card.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the steps you will take to become a registered medical marijuana caregiver.
1. Register with the PA Department of Health Website
Step one for becoming a medical marijuana caregiver is registering with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This is a relatively short and simple process, but when you get to the registration screen, you will note that there are four different options.
Each option is for a specific case, and in order to register correctly, you will need to select the right option.
When registering for your caregiver card, you will need to do that from a desktop or laptop computer.
It cannot be done on a phone. Enter all the information in all caps, exactly as it appears on your
driver’s license or state ID.
Here, we will go over each of these options.
- Adult patient caregiver registration – select this option if you are registering for an adult patient who is already registered in the system, but not yet certified by a practitioner. To register for this option, you will need the patient’s name, date of birth, and ID number. You can find their ID number under the profile setting in their PA Dept of Health account.
- Caregiver registering for an existing patient – Select this option of you are registering for a patient who is already certified by a practitioner, has a medical marijuana card, and can either no longer go to the dispensary independently or requires assistance. You will need the patient’s name, date of birth, and ID number. You can find their ID number under the profile setting in their patient account with the PA Department of Health.
- Caregiver registering for a new patient – select this option if you are registering to be a caregiver for a patient who is not yet registered and will not be visiting a dispensary themselves. This includes minors, patients who require in-house support, or have a disability. In this case, the patient will not receive an ID card or register separately. For this option, you will need the patient’s name, date of birth, address, and telephone number.
- DOH-approved caregiver registration – select this option if you want to register as a caregiver in the system that any patients in the area can use. When you select this option, you authorize the Department of Health to share your contact information with patients in the area who are looking for a caregiver. If you do not want to share this contact information, select one of the previous options.
2. Get Certified By a Healthcare Professional
If your patient to-be is not yet certified to receive medical marijuana, then you must complete this step before moving on with your application.
Once you have registered as a caregiver, your patient will need a Pennsylvania Health Department-approved physician to certify that they suffer from one of the twenty-three qualifying conditions. All approved physicians have access to the medical marijuana registry and can input their certification directly into the system. You can find a list of approved physicians on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.
3. Undergo the Criminal Background Check
After you have registered on the PA Department of Health’s website, you will need to undergo a criminal background check. During this check, you will have an appointment to be fingerprinted. Your criminal record will be reviewed before you can get accepted as a caregiver.
Any criminal offenses involving selling or possessing illegal drugs in the past five years will disqualify you from becoming a medical marijuana caregiver.
4. Wait for Your Confirmation Email
You will need to then wait for your confirmation email from the PA Dept Of Health. This email will detail the outcome of your background check and tell you whether or not you can become a medical marijuana caregiver.
This email can take between 4-6 weeks from the point of your fingerprinting appointment.
5. Pay for Your ID Card
Once your application has been approved and you have received your confirmation email, you simply need to pay for your ID. A medical marijuana caregiver ID is $50; you can pay for it by logging into your account on the PA Department of Health website and clicking on the ‘Make Payment’ tab.
Ready To Become A Caregiver?
If you are ready to get started and register as a medical marijuana caregiver, go ahead and head over to the Pennsylvania Department of Health website. If you have a loved one who can benefit from medical marijuana but has not yet become certified or entered into the medical marijuana database, you will need to get them certified.
You don’t have to worry about scheduling appointments or long wait times if you head to Medical Marijuana Specialists. Our certified doctors can help walk you through getting certified for medical marijuana today. We also offer free help with the Department of Health, and we are available Monday-Friday from 9 AM-5 PM. You can contact us here to get your ID card today, no appointment needed!