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Have you ever wondered how to become a legal marijuana caregiver in California? Or maybe you've heard all the possibilities of becoming a caregiver but don't know where to start. Today we’re going over all the steps you'll need to take to become a legal and certified medical marijuana caregiver in California.

What Is a Primary Caregiver?

Under California law, a primary caregiver is “a person who is consistently responsible for the housing, health, or safety of a qualified patient.” A primary caregiver is an individual who has been granted the right to grow and possess cannabis for the use of a specific person in California. Only a patient can designate a primary caregiver.

Primary Marijuana Caregiver in California Responsibilities

Under California’s Compassionate Use Act (CUA), primary caregivers for medical cannabis patients may:

  • Possess cannabis for patients
  • Give cannabis to patients
  • Transport reasonable amounts of cannabis for a patient’s medical use
  • Grow cannabis and/or produce concentrates for the patient’s use

How Much Cannabis Can a Marijuana Caregiver Possess or Grow?

Caregivers may possess no more than 8 ounces of dried cannabis per qualified patient and produce no more than 6 mature or 12 immature cannabis plants. However, a primary care physician can recommend a larger quantity to meet the patient's needs.

Caregiver Requirements in California

Becoming a primary marijuana caregiver in California has a few state requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old unless the caregiver is an emancipated minor or parent of a minor child who is a qualified patient
  • $100 fee (reduced fee available)
  • Designated by patient
  • Must provide personal information to the country program (specific requirements vary by county)

Can a Caregiver Care for More Than One Patient in California?

Primary caregivers can provide care for more than one medical cannabis patient. However, the caregiver must reside in the same county as the qualified patients.

How to Apply to Become a Cannabis Caregiver in California

Primary caregivers cannot apply for a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC). Qualifying patients must apply for the MMIC and designate a primary caregiver if needed. 

Patients must fill out an application/renewal form and check the appropriate box on the top of page one to include the primary caregiver.


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Caregivers must complete a section with their contact information and primary caregiver duties. They must also list whether they are a primary caregiver for the applicant, another applicant in the same county, or another applicant in a different country.

Caregivers must check a box if they are linked to a health-related entity, such as the clinic owner/operator, a clinic/facility/hospice, or a home health agency employee designated to serve as a primary caregiver.

Caregivers must provide a valid government-issued identification card and proof of county residence, such as a utility bill or DMV registration.

What Is a Primary Caregiver Identification Card?

Primary caregivers do not need a medical cannabis card to care for patients. However, a primary caregiver ID protects caregivers against arrest for possession, distribution, or cultivation of cannabis. Primary caregiver IDs indicate a person is a caregiver and show the card’s expiration date.

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Qualifying Medical Conditions

Primary care physicians can recommend cannabis to treat the following qualifying conditions:

  • AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Severe nausea
  • Persistent muscle spasms (including those associated with multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures (including, but not limited to, those associated with epilepsy)
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities or, if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient’s safety or physical or mental health

Medical Cannabis Patient Requirements

  • Fees vary by county but cannot exceed $100; a Medi-Cal beneficiary can receive a 50% reduction
  • Must be 18 years of age or older, minor patients must meet additional requirements
  • A copy of medical recommendation
  • In-person application, where you will have your photo taken at the county’s program office
  • Must provide personal information to the country program (specific requirements vary by county)

Learn to Become a Better Caregiver with CTU

Cannabis Training University (CTU) can provide you with an in-depth, online cannabis education that fits within your schedule and budget. Our Master of Cannabis certification program teaches you how to grow and harvest plants and make edibles and extracts at home. Enroll today!

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