Guide to Laws for Children Using Medical Marijuana

Joe Evans
Joe Evans - Content Writer

May 05 2021 - 9 min read

When it comes to caring for diseases and the most vulnerable among us, there are some clear areas where modern pharmaceutical medicine fails, and where medical marijuana succeeds. For many dealing with conditions like epilepsy (including childhood epilepsy), chronic pain, and anxiety disorders, there are few traditional pharmaceutical options that can provide consistent, lasting relief without sometimes vicious side effects. For many of those people, the only viable and effective option that treats their condition is medical cannabis.

Naturally, some of those patients are below the age their state allows people to start getting medical cannabis cards of their own. So what happens then? Are they just simply out of luck and without access to their medicine? Thankfully, that’s not often the case, but the process of becoming or getting a caregiver can be complicated, long, and legally grey.

So we here at Leafwell are here to break down all the important laws, rules, and regulations you’ll need to know if you or someone you love is a minor in need of access to medical cannabis in a handy state-by-state go-to guide for everything you’ll need to know! You can also read more on how to get a medical marijuana card for your child here.

Side-effects of cannabis for children
Medical marijuana and children – benefits and side-effects.

Important Rules, Laws, and Regulations to Know for Caregivers

Conditions that Qualify Minors for a Medical Marijuana Certificate and Card

As cannabis is federally illegal and contains several intoxicating (but many more non-intoxicating but still therapeutically useful) compounds (cannabinoids), it is obviously fairly restricted when it comes to recommending cannabis to children. However, cannabis is like any other medication, in that it has positives and negatives, and is useful for some problems and not necessarily for others. With this being said, medical cannabis, due to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is a hugely versatile and relatively safe medication for all ages, especially when appropriately dosed. Those who are concerned about using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can look at microdosing THC, balancing it out with equal or greater ratios of CBD to reduce its psychoactive effects yet utilize THC’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, use acidic cannabinoids like THCA, or use the less psychoactive delta-8 THC.

When it comes to the conditions that usually qualify children for medical cannabis, it’s usually serious, chronic, extremely painful and/or terminal conditions, or conditions that can involve plenty of involvement and care from the caregiver.The sorts of qualifying conditions include:

ID and Documents Needed

You should prepare for your child’s telemedicine visit like you would any other first appointment. It is recommended that you talk to your child’s regular physician weeks in advance to obtain any necessary documentation. This could include x-rays, MRI or CT scans and other test results. Having these documents ahead of time will ensure that you don’t hit any snags in showing a Leafwell doctor why you’re looking for a medical marijuana recommendation for your child.

Outside of your medical records, you will also need a valid ID. Leafwell requires ID for the child and the parent or legal guardian attending the telemedicine appointment.

When applying to the state, each program requires slightly different documentation. Generally, when it comes to children, a guardian or caregiver provides their identification along with the application. In most cases, a valid driver’s license, state ID, military ID or passport is required. However, sometimes documents like power and water bills or bank statements that prove residency are allowed instead or asked for in addition to your ID.

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card for Your Child

Although every state has its differences, here’s the general process of getting a medical marijuana certificate / recommendation and card for your child.

  1. Register online and speak to a licensed physician. Please have appropriate ID for you and your child, as well as a working camera, speakers and microphone on your smartphone, tablet or computer so you can speak and see the doctor.
  2. Get approved and receive your physician’s medical cannabis certificate / recommendation. Your certificate/recommendation will be emailed to you. Many states require two physicians’ medical marijuana certification / recommendations when it comes to minors.
  3. Register with the state Department of Health’s medical marijuana program. This is sometimes done before step 1 above, or alongside step 1 during your appointment with the physician. You will need to fill out a minor’s medical marijuana card form for your child, and a caregiver’s application for yourself. Sometimes, the caregiver form will be attached to the original application form, in other instances a caregiver application form is separate. The patient application usually has to list their caregiver/s on thei application form.
  4. Receive your child’s medical marijuana card and your caregiver’s card.
  5. You can now shop at a dispensary in your state for appropriate cannabinoid-based medication for your child. You may need to take photographic ID with you as well. Your child will not be able to enter the dispensary with you.

There are usually several rules for caregivers as well, such as not having been convicted for a felony offense (particularly ones involving violence or drug crimes), and not being medical marijuana patients themselves.

Using Medical Cannabis at School

In California, medical marijuana may be used by children if they have a valid recommendation and their parents/caregivers are the ones administering it.

Colorado is perhaps the most open state when it comes to medical cannabis and students, approving a measure that allows school nurses to administer medical marijuana with parental permission.

In Delaware, minors with a valid physician’s medical marijuana certificate and card are allowed to use medical cannabis on school grounds.

In Florida, school districts have developed their own medical marijuana policies, with Miami-Dade County allowing parents and caregivers to administer medical cannabis on school grounds. Caregivers administering medical cannabis to a student at the school must also register with the school.

Illinois allows for students to receive medical marijuana when at school, so long as it does not disrupt the learning environment or expose other students to it. Illinois state law does not require school officials to administer medical cannabis.

Maryland passed House Bill 617, meaning an elected employee of the school can give a child with a valid medical marijuana certificate their medical marijuana if necessary during school hours, after-school activities and/or on school buses.

New Jersey also allows for students who are medical cannabis patients to consume their medication at school.

New Mexico allows students with a valid medical cannabis recommendation to access their medication on school grounds. However, their parents must bring the medication in, and the student cannot store it on school grounds.

New York passed Senate Bill S8191A, aka “Tanshin’s Law”, which “Permits the administration of medical marihuana to students while at school and individuals with developmental disabilities while receiving services at a facility.”

In Pennsylvania, the school can provide reasonable accommodations for a parent or caregiver to enter the school premises and administer medical cannabis. You can read more on the guidance for schools and school districts here.

Oklahoma allows for students with a valid medical marijuana certificate. Students must use a private room, and it can only be bought in by a parent or guardian who is a licensed caregiver. Caregivers can only bring smokeless marijuana like oils, edibles or pills.

Washington allows medical cannabis consumption on school grounds but, as with Florida, this allowance is at a school’s discretion.

Washington, D.C. lawmakers have also passed legislation that permits students to take medical marijuana when on school grounds.

One major factor to consider is that children under the age of 18 can’t get cards of their own by themselves (unless they’re legally emancipated!). That’s where caregivers come into the mix. It’s important that someone who wants or needs to be a caregiver understands the laws and requirements they need to meet to become one. Click on the state if you want to read more about their individual medical marijuana laws, including information about their caregiver programs and how minors can qualify.

Alaska

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Alaska medical marijuana application packet.

Arizona

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Arizona under 18 application checklist.

Arkansas

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Arkansas medical marijuana FAQs.

California

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

California MMIC program FAQs.

Colorado

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Colorado medical marijuana card application.

Connecticut

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Delaware

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

District of Columbia

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Florida

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Child using cannabis to treat epilepsy
Child using cannabis to treat epilepsy

Hawaii

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Illinois

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Maine

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Maryland

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Massachusetts

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Michigan

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Minnesota

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Montana

A resident of this state, who is also a minor’s legal guardian, may apply for a medical marijuana card and obtain cannabis for a minor.

Nevada

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

New Hampshire

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

New Jersey

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

New Mexico

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

New York

Residents who are 21 years old can provide care for a maximum of 5 minors who need to use medical marijuana.

North Dakota

The minimum age for caregivers in North Dakota is 21 years. Each caregiver must obtain a medical cannabis card to be able to get medical marijuana for minors who are less than 19 years of age.

Ohio

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Oregon

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Pennsylvania

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Rhode Island

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Vermont

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Washington

Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

West Virginia

Residents need to be 18 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need medical cannabis.

Becoming a Caregiver

Different states have different processes, but in pretty much every case, the caregiver (usually the family members or guardians of the child in need of an MMJ card) must fill out their own application form for a caregiver’s medical marijuana card, and/or be listed on the patient’s medical marijuana card application form. The caregiver will often also need to be at the initial medical marijuana evaluation with the physician as well.

Things caregivers should know about medical marijuana

The Main Differences Between Each State’s Medical Marijuana Caregiver Programs

Key differences in becoming a caregiver between states include:

  • Whether or not a state allows qualifying patients to designate a caregiver to assist with medical marijuana use.
  • The length of time a caregiver’s registration remains valid.
  • How many caregivers a patient can designate.
  • How many patients a caregiver can assist.
  • Exceptions to a caregiver’s patient limits if, for instance, the cannabis caregiver works as a hospice provider or in a medical housing facility or if the caregiver and multiple patients all reside in the same household, are related, etc.
  • The minimum age for marijuana caregivers differs, some states are okay with 18 years old, others hold out for 21.
  • Limits of marijuana possession by caregivers varies widely, from one ounce to a 90 day supply.
  • If a state allows caregivers to cultivate medical cannabis, how many marijuana plants is the caregiver permitted to grow?
  • Some states limit transportation of medical marijuana by cannabis caregivers.
  • States differ on what kinds of criminal convictions disqualify a person from being a medical cannabis caregiver.
  • A caregiver’s right to charge fees specifically related to medical marijuana does not exist in all states.
  • Some jurisdictions recognize out-of-state cannabis caregiver registrations; others do not.
  • Are restrictions imposed upon out-of-state caregivers, such as being prohibited from growing or buying medical cannabis?
  • Some state medical marijuana regulations bake in exemptions to marijuana arrest of medical cannabis caregivers.
  • Some states don’t allow caregivers to be medical cannabis patients themselves (e.g. Ohio).

Check out our article on getting a medical marijuana card for your child online for more details.

The Fight For Legal Access

While medical cannabis has been widely accepted, legalized in more than half the states in the U.S. medically, and has been proven to be effective for the youngest and most vulnerable among us, there are still inconsistencies in legal access to their medicine.

Children and medical marijuana - can a child use medical cannabis at school
Can children use medical cannabis at school if they have a valid medical marijuana certificate?

Only weeks ago, Colorado, one of the most progressive states around when it comes to legal cannabis, gave children with medical cannabis cards access to their medicine while in school. While this might be a small example of how legal access to cannabis can be improved, there’s still a long way to go in finishing that fight.

Understanding the laws and rules surrounding being a caregiver is an important step in that process.

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Written by
Joe Evans
Joe Evans

Joe Evans is a journalist, writer, editor and contributor for Leafwell. He has, to date, more than 5,000 articles published online under his byline on topics like cannabis, local and National news, politics, automotive news, sports, pop culture and even a cult.

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