April 2011: Primary Caregiver Basics

Patients in California can have a primary caregiver who is legally able to assist them in the cultivation, procurement, and use of their medical cannabis. Patients do not have to file any paperwork in order for their caregiver to be protected from legal action. In order to keep your caregiver safe, though, it’s important to understand California law.

The language of California’s law requires that any assistant comes from a “Primary Caregiver.” A primary caregiver is someone who is responsible for more than just the medical cannabis needs of the person they are assisting. Responsibilities can include trips to the doctor, assisting with grocery shopping or other errands, helping with personal finances or a counseling-type role in the patient’s life. Due to the word “primary,” a patient can probably only have one primary caregiver; an exception to this might be a situation where a parent and a spouse are sharing the responsibilities of caring for the patient.

We recommend that your primary caregiver carry a copy of your recommendation to use medical cannabis, as well as a copy of a Caregiver Agreement.

While there is no legal requirement to have a Caregiver Agreement, this document can demonstrate to law enforcement that you are doing your best to follow the law.

Patients, make sure your primary caregiver understands their rights and responsibilities, and the two of you may want to take a look at the legal section of ASA’s website so that each of you is prepared in the case of a law enforcement encounter. If either you or your primary caregiver run into trouble or have any questions, encourage please contact ASA’s Legal Hotline at 510/251-1856 x304 or email [email protected]

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