How to Get an MMJ Card for Your Child
Article written by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
- Can Children and Teens Get Medical Cards?
- What is a Caregiver?
- How Do I Become a Caregiver?
- Do I Have to Be a Caregiver for My Child to Get an MMJ Card for Them?
- Does My Child Have to Be On the Physician’s Call for Medical Marijuana?
- Steps to Getting an MMJ Card for Your Child
- Medical Card Costs for Children
- Necessary Identification and Documents
- Will My Child’s Primary Care Physician Be Informed of Their Medical Cannabis Qualification?
- Finding the Right Medical Marijuana Doctor
- Finding the Right Dispensary
- Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Children? Finding the Right Product for My Child
- Can Caregivers Grow Cannabis?
- The Bottom Line
Everybody’s heard about adults getting medical marijuana cards for themselves. Yet, kids with cancer, epilepsy, and other conditions are often given highly addictive pharmaceuticals. Why should we refuse something that could help them and is far less dangerous? That’s why our physicians see minors too.
Plus, anyone who’s heard stories like that of Jayden David (of Jayden’s Journey) will realize that there is serious medical potential in medical cannabis and CBD. Medical marijuana is not just a “stepping stone” to legalized recreational use; the medical applications are very real. For some people, getting access to medical marijuana is life and death.
Parents looking to get their children medical marijuana can follow this guide. While not a comprehensive, state-by-state breakdown, it will give you a general idea of how to get a medical marijuana card for your child regardless of your home state.
Can Children and Teens Get Medical Cards?
Simply put, yes. If your child fulfills the qualifying criteria in the appropriate state, they can apply to use medical cannabis. They will need to have a qualified Caregiver, who (in most states) must be at least 21 years of age and has significant responsibilities in caring for the child. Caregivers often will need to fulfill additional criteria to qualify for the role.
As minors can be susceptible to THC, the qualifying criteria for medical cannabis are often stricter in many states. Some require two physicians’ certificates/recommendations and/or a pediatric specialist to qualify the patient. Other states will only allow cannabis qualifications for children if they are suffering from a particularly severe condition, such as epilepsy, cancer, and terminal illnesses, are some examples.
What is a Caregiver?
A caregiver is responsible for managing the well-being and use of cannabis of a person diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition. You do not need to be related to a person to be their caregiver, and an attending physician is not a caregiver.
How Do I Become a Caregiver?
This depends on the state. You will need to answer questions about you and the designated patient in your care. In some cases, forms will inquire into any past medical training.
Some states require you to complete a Caregiver Core Certification Course, including about 12 or more hours of basic training on the foundations for beginning work as a caregiver. Becoming a caregiver for conditions like dementia may require you to complete more training. You must also prove that you have been the primary designated caregiver for the child throughout their life, usually as a parent or lawful guardian. Again, this depends on the state, but there are some similarities.
In most states, patients can have a maximum of one caregiver who must be at least 21. There are usually several other rules for caregivers, such as not being convicted for a felony offense (particularly involving violence or drug crimes) and not being medical marijuana patients themselves.
Leafwell can help provide more specific state information for caregivers during the certification process.
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Do I Have to Be a Caregiver for My Child to Get an MMJ Card for Them?
Yes. Unless the child is legally emancipated, they will need a qualified caregiver to get a physician’s certificate or a medical marijuana card recommendation.
Does My Child Have to Be On the Physician’s Call for Medical Marijuana?
Yes. The physician will need to see your child speak to you and examine them if necessary.
Steps to Getting an MMJ Card for Your Child
As a caregiver, you will be applying for medical cannabis on behalf of someone else, and the process is much the same. You will need to fill out your child’s application form (often a specific application form for minors), a caregiver form, and, where allowed, an application form indicating if you wish to grow medical cannabis. You must provide identification and proof of residency for yourself and your child. You may need two physicians’ certificates or the opinion of a pediatric specialist.
Here are general steps for getting a medical marijuana card via telemedicine, whether it’s for you or your child:
- Register online and speak to a licensed physician. Please have an appropriate ID for you and your child and a working camera, speakers, and microphone on your smartphone, tablet, or computer so you can speak and see the doctor.
- Following examination, get approved and receive your physician’s medical cannabis certificate or recommendation. Your certificate/recommendation will be emailed to you.
- Register with the state Department of Health’s medical marijuana program. You must 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 will then list their caregiver/s on the application form.
- Receive your child’s medical marijuana card and your caregiver’s card.
- You can now shop at a dispensary in your state for appropriate cannabinoid-based medication for your child. You may need to take a photographic ID with you, and your child will not be able to enter the dispensary with you.
Medical Card Costs for Children
This varies by state and the number of years the state allows qualification (Illinois allows for up to three years’ qualification, for example). There are also usually some extra things that are needed that can increase costs compared to an adult’s medical marijuana card, including the caregiver’s medical cannabis identification card and the need for a second physician’s opinion. For more general information, you can visit our Ultimate Guide to Getting a Medical Marijuana Card.
A medical marijuana card for a child can be between approximately $100 and $500 for an annual certificate and medical marijuana card, depending on the state. We try to keep medical cannabis cards for children relatively affordable at Leafwell. Prices are subject to change.
Necessary Identification and Documents
You will need ID both for yourself and your child. There are some differences from state to state, but as a general rule of thumb, you will need:
- Photo ID of yourself – a state-issued ID card, passport, or driver’s license is usually acceptable.
- Your child’s birth certificate.
- Proof of address from the last two to three months. This can include a rental or mortgage agreement, utility bill (gas, electric, water, broadband bill – not cell phone), or correspondence with a state department (e.g., the DMV).
- In some states, a criminal background check.
- Two passport-style photographs of you and your child.
- Any relevant medical history, including progress notes, medication lists, or medical images.
Will My Child’s Primary Care Physician Be Informed of Their Medical Cannabis Qualification?
As the recommendation will be noted on your child’s medical records, your child’s primary care physician will be informed. It is also appropriate to tell your primary care physician if you intend to use medical cannabis for your child to prevent any contraindicated drug prescriptions or treatments. If you need a primary care physician for your child, Leafwell is here to help.
Finding the Right Medical Marijuana Doctor
Some doctors may be reluctant to recommend medical marijuana for a child. However, any parent coming to medical marijuana is usually at their wit’s end, looking for anything that could help or save their child, especially when so many prescription medications have nasty side effects or fail to help.
Fortunately, Leafwell can see patients through telemedicine. Our doctors can recommend cannabis for patients online through telehealth and reach those struggling to find a recommending physician. We are very sensitive and aware of the needs of parents providing MMJ for their children.
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Finding the Right Dispensary
You can have a valid medical marijuana card for a child and everything, but some dispensaries may be reluctant to hand over medical marijuana to parents treating their kids. However, most well-run dispensaries will have no problems helping you find an appropriate cannabis medicine for your child.
Finding the right dispensary may require some trial and error, but you can make things easier for yourself by doing plenty of research and asking others you might know for advice. If you are active on social media, several parent groups across the US provide their children MMJ, and these support networks can greatly help.
Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Children? Finding the Right Product for My Child
Seriously sick children can be prescribed harsh and addictive medications, including opioids and benzodiazepines, which have several short- and long-term adverse effects. Medical marijuana is comparatively well-tolerated by the human body, and there is no risk of deadly overdose, even for children.
That said, parents must still take care of giving any medicine to children, including cannabinoid-based ones. We know that, as THC affects CB1 receptors, it is psychoactive, and THC can harm the developing brain, especially if regular large doses are used. If THC is required, it is wise to use smaller doses in consultation with a physician.
However, one needn’t use psychoactive amounts of THC to obtain its medical benefits. Even low doses of THC (1 – 3 milligrams), which have little psychoactive effect, can deliver anti-nausea, anti-tumor, painkilling, and sleep-promoting properties. Some children with cancer may need higher doses of THC. THC is still far safer and more tolerable than many medications, even if this is not ideal.
For children, other cannabinoids like CBD, CBDV, THCA, and CBC may be more helpful, as they do not have the same level of psychoactivity as THC and are unlikely to cause any long-term changes to the brain, as they are not affecting CB1 receptors in the brain in the same way as THC.
Can Caregivers Grow Cannabis?
Essentially, being a caregiver gives a person similar rights to patients regarding their ability to grow cannabis. In some states, caregivers can cultivate small amounts of medical cannabis within certain requirements. Caregivers also have limits on how many patients for whom they can cultivate. A specific license is required to grow medical marijuana legally in some states.
In California, caregivers can grow up to 12 mature plants, depending on their proximity to a dispensary. Specific strains of cannabis not grown by the local dispensary can be grown by the caregiver. Caregivers cannot use cannabis unless they are registered medical marijuana patients.
The Bottom Line
For those completing a medical marijuana card application for someone else, it is the same process as completing it for themselves – they have to confirm that they’re applying for someone else and give their Caregiver ID number on the form. Getting a medical marijuana card for a minor shouldn’t be too difficult, as children suffering from conditions requiring medical marijuana tend to have vast, detailed medical records proving their illness and lists of medications given to them.