Since medical marijuana is legal in many states across the U.S., new industry professions are cropping up. Here’s one job title that piqued our interest recently: medical marijuana caregiver.
So who are these people, and how do they care for patients?
What’s a medical marijuana caregiver?
The state of Michigan offers a good example with their definition of a marijuana caregiver. In the Great Lakes State, a marijuana “primary caregiver” or “caregiver” is defined as the following: a person who is at least 21 years old and who has agreed to assist with a patient's medical use of marijuana.
To be a marijuana caregiver in Michigan comes with some additional requirements, though, such as not being convicted of any felony within the past 10 years, and never being convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs or felony related to an assaultive crime.
What does a medical marijuana caregiver do?
A caregiver adapts the services provided to the needs of the patient. For example, in some locales a caregiver can assist a patient who wants to grow their own plants. Not everybody knows how to get started, where to buy soils or seeds, or how to grow and harvest, so this is when a marijuana caregiver is of great service. Over the course of several weeks or months, such a caregiver can help a patient find the right strain, set up their grow site, and then grow, harvest, and cure their medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana caregivers might also be able to grow plants themselves for their patients. In this case, the caregiver’s grow site must follow state laws concerning, among other things, the number of plants grown, transportation, and security and residential zoning.
But that’s not all. Caregivers can also teach patients appropriate dosing procedures and how to make edibles, tinctures, creams and other marijuana-based products. Too, they can drive the patient to the doctor, help with grocery shopping, and much more.
Medical marijuana caregivers in Maine show how the profession is evolving
When Maine allowed the use of medical marijuana, patients basically had two choices. They had to grow their own plants, or ask a family member designated as caregiver to do it for them. Up until 2009, the state of Maine allowed caregivers to have only one patient. But inn 2009, the law was changed, allowing caregivers to serve up to five patients. It quickly became a larger scaled industry, especially with the rise of the number of people seeking medical marijuana treatment.
In 2013, another amendment to the law allowed caregivers to hire an employee. The industry further expanded, and the state of Maine now has around 3,000 marijuana caregivers, according to Portland Press Herald.
The future of the profession
It’s hard to say how the industry of medical marijuana caregivers will evolve during the next few years. Dispensaries and recreational use laws could compete with smaller caregiver businesses. And much will depend on legislative amendments, which could change the number of plants a marijuana caregiver can maintain, as well as how many patients they can serve.
If you’re interested in becoming a medical marijuana caregiver, the best first step is to research your specific state’s rules and regulations.