People who are suffering from chronic and debilitating illnesses sometimes need assistance from another person to help them with their healthcare needs. Florida medical marijuana patients are allowed to have a designated caregiver certified by the state to help them purchase and administer their medical marijuana products.
The first step to becoming either a qualified medical marijuana patient or their caregiver is to see a state-registered Medical Marijuana Physician. To see if you might be eligible for your medical marijuana card in Florida, click here.
What is a Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
A medical marijuana caregiver is a person who has the legal right to purchase,possess, and help administer medical marijuana for use by a qualified medical marijuana patient. They are considered to be the legal representative for the medical marijuana patient.
The Requirements to Become a Medical Marijuana Caregiver
Under Florida law, “the qualified patient’s legal representative may purchase and possess for the patient’s medical use up to the amount of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis ordered for the patient, but not more than a 45-day supply, and a cannabis delivery device ordered for the patient.” Section 381.986(9)(a), Florida Statutes.
Patients who meet the following criteria may choose to register a caregiver into the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry under these circumstances:
- When the patient is a minor.
- When the patient is an adult who presents with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities and is unable to engage fully in activities of self-care or self-determination for health needs.
- When the patient is terminally ill and is admitted to a hospice program.
Section 381.986(1)(d) of the Florida Statutes states that only the following people can serve as a qualified patient’s “legal representative”:
- a parent;
- a legal guardian acting pursuant to a court’s authorization as required under Section 744.3215(4), Florida Statutes;
- a health care surrogate acting pursuant to the qualified patient’s written consent or a court’s authorization as required under Section 765.113, Florida Statutes; or
- an individual who is authorized under a power of attorney to make health care decisions on behalf of the qualified patient.
There are several restrictions and conditions that medical marijuana caregivers must meet in order to qualify:
- Cannot be a qualified physician
- Cannot be employed by or have an economic interested in a medical marijuana treatment center or marijuana testing laboratory
- Must be 21 years of age and a Florida resident
- Must agree, in writing, to assist with the qualified patient’s medical use of marijuana cannabis products
- Must complete a caregiver certification course by Florida Department of Health
- If not closely related to the patient, must pass a background check
The law also states that if a patient chooses to designate a caregiver then the approved representative can participate in all aspects of the process by which a patient obtains medical marijuana, including supplying the requisite informed consent on behalf of the patient (Section 381.986(2)(h), Florida Statutes), and being registered by the physician in the compassionate use registry as the patient’s legal representative (Section 381.986(2)(e), Florida Statutes).
The Department of Health’s regulations on the compassionate use registry confirm that a dispensing organization may provide medical marijuana to a patient’s legal representative who is properly registered in the registry. Fla. Admin. Code r. 64-4.009(4)-(5).
Caregivers do have a number of legal restrictions in place to protect the safety of their medical marijuana patients. SImilar to not allowing a patient to have more than one designated registered caregiver, a caregiver cannot be registered to more than one patient unless:
- The caregiver is a parent of two or more minor children who are qualified patients.
- The caregiver is the parent of an adult with disabilities that prevent the qualified patient from activities of self-care without supervision or assistance.
- The caregiver is an employee of a hospice program with multiple qualified patients.
Applying to Become a Caregiver
In order to become a registered caregiver for a qualified Florida medical marijuana patient, the person must apply for their caregiver card through the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU). The combination of the ID card and their approval in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR), the caregivers are able to show they are legally able to purchase, possess, and administer medical marijuana on behalf of a qualified patient.
Since March of 2017, all caregivers must obtain a MMUR Identification Card to fill any orders of low-THC, medical marijuana, and delivery devices from a state registered Medical Marijuana Treatment Center.
The patients recommending physician must enter your email into the MMUR in order for you to be able to apply. There are two different ways to apply to become a registered Caregiver in Florida:
- Electronic Applications: Electronic applications are a quick and easy way to apply. They only take a few minutes to complete and allow for significantly faster processing times than paper applications. Once the physician has entered the caregiver into the registry, the caregiver must log into the MMUR and check the accuracy of their information. If all is correct, they can complete the application and submit payment online.
- Paper Applications: If the caregiver does not have the ability to apply online, they can do so by mailing in a paper application. In order to do so, first print the application and fill out all of the required information. Be sure to write legibly and include a copy of your proof of residency and a check or money order. Sign and mail your application to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
For help completing your application click here. Once a card application has been approved, you will receive a temporary card from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use in your email. Shortly after, you will receive your ID card in the mail. This grants you the ability to legally purchase medical marijuana products from certified retailers on behalf of your qualified patient.
If you are responsible for a person who is eligible for their medical marijauana recommendation and are interested in becoming their registered caregiver, the staff at DocMJ are here to guide you through the process. Book them an appointment at whichever location is nearest you.