Top Four Best Tips for Cannabis Caregivers
Published on 3/14/22
The legal cannabis industry has come a long way over the past two decades or so. In less than 20 years, cannabis has gone from a black market illegal drug in every state, both recreationally and medically, to a multi-billion dollar juggernaut where access to state-regulated medical cannabis is available in 36 states, four U.S. territories, and Washington D.C. Due to that incredible rise, many still have questions about the nitty-gritty details of certain aspects of the medical cannabis community. One of the more complicated and often misunderstood aspects of the medical cannabis community is the role of caregiver.
That's why this article will break down what exactly a medical cannabis caregiver is and does, touch on exactly what medical cannabis caregivers can and can't do, and lastly, give a few tips for current and prospective medical cannabis caregivers to keep in mind going forwards!
What Exactly is a Medical Cannabis Caregiver?
While the duties and obligations of a medical cannabis caregiver are vast and vary by individual state law, the basis of what a caregiver is is pretty much universally the same. As a medical cannabis caregiver, you'll be in charge of dosing, purchasing, and transporting medical cannabis for someone who's either too young or too sick to do so themselves.
For example, if someone is suffering from late-stage cancer or is immobilized in some way, they're likely to have a caregiver who can properly dose their cannabis-derived medicine for them. The same concept applies to those who need some form of medical cannabis who are under the age of 18-21, depending on the state. After all, it wouldn't make much sense to give minors the ability to legally walk into medical dispensaries and responsibly purchase, dose, possess, or consume cannabis products. That's where caregivers come into play.
While the process of becoming a medical cannabis caregiver varies per state, the general set of requirements you'll need to meet are pretty much the same across the board. You need to be a U.S. citizen above age 18-21, depending on the state, and you'll either need a medical cannabis card of your own or a specific caregiver license that grants you all the rights and abilities of a medical cannabis patient with only a few restrictions.
So now that we know what a medical cannabis caregiver is, let's break down the tips you'll need to keep in mind to be a good one!
1. Know the Rules and Laws of Your State
Due to the patchwork and still-developing nature of medical cannabis legalization in the U.S., medical cannabis laws differ state-by-state. That same state-by-state approach means different rules for caregivers as well as patients. For example, in states like Maryland, Washington, and Pennsylvania, caregivers need to be at least 21 years or older. In states like Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada, caregivers only need to be 18 or older.
Another factor to consider is possession and homegrowing limitations. Depending on the state you're in, you may be able to grow cannabis plants at home as a caregiver. States like Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Massachusetts allow their caregivers to home grow. Still, each has different rules and laws restricting the number of plants being grown and the amount of dried and usable medical cannabis flower you can have at once. The same goes for trips to the dispensary. Some states limit how much and what types of cannabis products caregivers have access to. Other states allow for caregivers to pick up pretty much any amount of cannabis or type of product.
At the end of the day, to be a good caregiver, you'll need to make sure you know what to do and what not to do in terms of purchase and possession of the cannabis product itself.
2. Learn About the Plant Itself
Being a great caregiver is more than just going to the dispensary and buying cannabis products for someone who physically can't anymore. It's about making sure that the person you're caring for is getting the absolute most out of their medicine as they can. To do that, you'll need a better understanding of how the cannabis plant works than the average recreational cannabis consumer.
Understanding the importance of cannabinoids other than just THC and CBD, the differences in strains and product types beyond just indica and sativa, and the differences in effect and dosage for each type of cannabis product. If you have a patient that's suffering from nerve pain, for example, you should know whether a transdermal cream would be more effective in easing their discomfort than a high THC strain of cannabis. You should also consult with licensed cannabis doctors and do research as to which products work best to treat which conditions. While everyone is different, using the budtenders at the dispensary and reputable internet sites like Where's Weed as resources is important as a caregiver.
Knowing the difference between a terpene-rich strain of cannabis flower and a full-spectrum tincture or oil, for example, might be the difference between getting the person you're caring for effective relief or not!
3. Invest in Storage/Growing Options
As a caregiver, you're likely to have your hands on quite a bit of cannabis products. In states that require you to be a patient yourself, that could mean keeping your own medication and the products for the person you're caring for separate. In some states where you're allowed to serve as a caregiver for more than one patient at a time, that means keeping everyone's medication separated and organized on a larger scale.
However, for a state that allows homegrowing, there are additional wrinkles to consider. Not only will you need to invest in a quality home growing operation, which means grow lights, an irrigation system, fertilizers and pesticides, and proper storage for the flower you're growing.
If you want to provide the best quality homegrown cannabis possible for the patients you're caring for or simply need to keep the product you've purchased for them from the dispensary, you should invest in some temperature and humidity-controlled storage devices.
4. Advocate for Your Patient
Being a caregiver is more than just buying, dosing, and growing cannabis for those who can't. You, as a caregiver, need to be prepared to advocate, ask questions, and make sure the appropriate level of care is being given. If your patient is dealing with discomfort because they can't get their hands on enough cannabis products due to state limits, you need to be prepared to advocate for exceptions from their licensed cannabis doctors and elected representatives.
At the end of the day, fighting for your patient is the point of being a caregiver in the first place. You need to be prepared to do that in every way, shape, or form.
Are you are a caregiver that administers cannabis to your patients? Let us know how these tips helped below!