Can Minors Get Medical Marijuana?

can minors get medical weed
By Nick Congleton Updated May 22nd

Fact-checked by Deb Tharp

Medical cannabis is becoming legal in more states than ever, and awareness is growing, leading many to wonder: can minors get medical weed? 

This article aims to give an overview of the requirements for getting an MMJ card for underage patients. 

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Can Minors Get Medical Marijuana?

While every state tries to keep recreational cannabis out of the hands of minors, most states allow minors access to medical cannabis, but only under very strict conditions.

Adults 18 to  20 can’t legally purchase recreational cannabis in any state. However, in most states, adults under 21 can become medical cannabis patients. In states like Alabama and North Dakota, patients must be 19 years old to purchase medical cannabis on their own. Most other states, like California and Oklahoma, allow patients 18 and older to purchase their own medical cannabis.

Most states allow minors under 18 to access medical cannabis. In all cases, the requirements are more stringent, like in Colorado, which requires two physicians to recommend cannabis. 

Nearly all states require a parent or guardian to agree to be a minor’s caregiver to manage and administer their medical cannabis for them. To learn more, find out your state’s specific medical cannabis laws.

What is a Caregiver?

weed caregiver

Caregivers are individuals who provide care to medical patients in need of assistance during daily care routine and/or administering their medication. States that offer access to medical cannabis often allow patients to register a caregiver to help them access their cannabis recommendation.

Caregivers are able to legally register along with the patients they’re providing care for, receive a caregiver ID, and must follow a specific set of laws outlined by the state. Caregivers can usually purchase a patient’s cannabis for them, cultivate their cannabis, and help administer their cannabis. 

In most states, a parent or legal guardian must serve as a minor patient’s caregiver.

Laws and requirements to become a caregiver vary from state to state, but in most cases, a caregiver must be an adult over 18 or 21, depending on the state. They must formally agree to care for the patient and take responsibility for managing the patient’s medication and helping them use it. 

Depending on the state caregivers can usually only be responsible for one patient at a time, unless they’re a parent or guardian caring for their own children. In most cases, caregivers cannot be the patient’s doctor, and in some states, a caregiver must pass a criminal background check, unless they’re caring for their own relatives. 

How Can a Minor Get an MMJ Card?

can minors get mmj

All state programs are more conservative about allowing minors access to medical cannabis. Much of the research on medical cannabis is in its infancy, and there are areas of concern when considering cannabis and the developing brain. That said, it is possible for minors to get medical cannabis in most states with medical cannabis programs.

In nearly every state, a parent or legal guardian must agree to be the minor patient’s caregiver and take full responsibility for managing their medication and providing constant care. 

Some states have steeper requirements for a physician’s recommendation to a minor. Some states require a patient to be evaluated by two physicians. Others require a minor patient be evaluated by a physician with one of several specialties. Every state has its own limitations and qualifications, so it’s best to check the laws where you live. 

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What States Allow MMJ Cards for Minors?

Every state has its own laws and requirements for medical cannabis, and those are often more specific for minors. Below you’ll find a brief breakdown of which states allow medical cannabis for minors.

If you or a minor child are already patients and will be traveling, consider which states accept out-of-state medical cannabis cards.

StateAge of Eligibility Without Parental ConsentState Medical Cannabis Program Portal
AL19 yrs
Note: Patients under 19 can’t use cannabis with more than 3% THC 
Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
AK18 yrsMedical Marijuana Registry – State of Alaska
AR18 yrs
Note: Patients under 21 can’t smoke cannabis
Arkansas Department of Health
AZ18 yrs 
Note: Patients under 18 need a parent or guardian caregiver
Arizona Department of Health Services
CA18 yrsDepartment of Cannabis Control
CO18 yrs
Note: First time applicants 18-20 years old will need to submit certifications from two providers from two different medical practices
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
CT18 yrsNote: Patients under 18 need a recommendation from two independent physicians, one of whom must be the patient’s primary physicianConnecticut State Department of Consumer Protection
DC18 yrs
Note: Patients 21 and over can self-certify without a doctor’s recommendation or qualifying condition
Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration
DE18 yrs
Note: Qualifying conditions and product types limited for patients under 18
Delaware Health and Social Services
FL18 yrsFlorida Department of Health
GA18 yrsGA Access to Medical Cannabis Commission
HI18 yrsState of Hawaii Department of Health
IA18 yrsThe Office of Medical Cannabidiol
IDN/AN/A
IL18 yrs
Note: Patients under 21 are only allowed infused products, only allowed for seizures if under 18 
Illinois Department of Public Health
INN/AN/A
KSN/AN/A
KYN/AN/A
LA18 yrsNote: Patients under 21 need a specific recommendation from their physician for smokable cannabis. Patients under 18 with autism must also have certification from a pediatric subspecialistLouisiana Department of Health
MA18 yrs 
Note: Patients under 18 need parental consent and certification by two certifying health care providers, one of whom must be a pediatrician or pediatric specialist
Cannabis Control Commission
MD18 yrsMaryland Medical Cannabis Commission
ME18 yrsOffice of Cannabis Policy
MI18 yrsMichigan Medical Marijuana Program
MN18 yrsMinnesota Department of Health
MO18 yrs unless emancipatedMissouri Department of Health & Senior Services
MS18 yrsMississippi State Department of Health
MT18 yrs
Note: patients under 18 can’t smoke
Cannabis Control Division
NCN/AN/A
ND19 yrs
Note: minor patients are limited to products with no more than 6% THC
North Dakota Department of Health
NEN/AN/A
NH18 yrsNew Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
NJ18 yrsNew Jersey Division of Medical Cannabis
NM18 yrsNew Mexico Department of Health
NV18 yrsNevada Department of Health and Human Services
NY18 yrsNew York Office of Cannabis Management
OH18 yrsMedical Marijuana Control Program
OK18 yrsOklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority
OR18 yrsOregon Health Authority
PA18 yrsPennsylvania Department of Health
RI18 yrsRhode Island Department of Health
SCN/AN/A
SD18 yrs
Note: patients under 21 may not smoke
South Dakota Department of Health
TNN/AN/A
TX18 yrs(Low-THC only) Texas Department of Public Safety
UTPatients under 21 must petition the Compassionate Use Board to join programUtah Department of Health & Human Services
VA18 yrsVirginia Board of Pharmacy
VT18 yrsVermont Cannabis Control Board
WA18 yrsWashington Department of Health
WIN/AN/A
WV18 yrsOffice of Medical Cannabis
WYN/AN/A

Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Minors?

can minors get weed

Medical cannabis research is still in its early stages, and there’s even less research on the effects of cannabis on minors. The research available is inconclusive at best and, at times, conflicting. 

Some of the common side effects of cannabis for anyone include:

  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Memory problems
  • Temporarily reduced cognitive function
  • Hunger
  • Sleep disturbances

Some studies have linked cannabis to serious adverse effects in minors. Researchers suggest that these effects are largely due to the still-developing state of a minor’s brain, but no causal links have been established. Additional risks for minors include:

  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Increased risk of depression and suicide
  • Lower IQ
  • Increased risk of anxiety
  • Impaired psychomotor function
  • Increased cardiovascular risks

It’s important to note that evidence only shows an association between these effects and cannabis use in minors. Other studies point to these associations arising from other factors. This means that cannabis use may not  be the sole cause of these risk factors. More research is necessary to understand these relationships. There is also evidence that minors can recover from these effects after stopping cannabis use.

When it comes down to deciding if medical cannabis is right for a minor patient, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the potential risks. This is an individual decision that’s best made based on the needs of the patient with the help of a medical professional.

minors and medical weed

Will the child’s primary care doctor be informed of MMJ qualifications?

That depends entirely on the doctor. Unfortunately, not all doctors are well informed about medical cannabis. While more doctors are exploring the possibilities of medical cannabis, it’s impossible to say for certain where your child’s doctor stands on the issue without asking them directly.

What is Ashley’s Law?

Ashley’s Laws is an Illinois state law that allows a parent, guardian, or individual registered with the state’s department of health to administer medical cannabis products to a student on school grounds or in a school bus. 

What is the minimum age for a minor to obtain an MMJ card?

In most states, the minimum age for a medical cannabis patient to obtain a medical cannabis card without parental consent is 18. Most states allow younger patients access to medical cannabis with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. In those instances, most states don’t have a legal minimum, so it would be at the discretion of medical professionals to recommend cannabis where appropriate.

What are the qualifying conditions for a minor to get a med card?

Each state maintains its own list of qualifying medical conditions. These conditions vary by state, so it’s best to check your state’s list. 

How much will an MMJ card for a minor cost?

The costs for medical cannabis cards vary by state. Generally, the cost of the card will be the same as the cost for an adult patient. However, there are a few additional costs that may arise.

Minor patients require a registered caregiver. In some states, caregiver registration comes with an additional charge for the caregiver ID. This registration, like the patient’s, will need to be renewed when it expires, usually once per year.

Some states also require that minor patients be evaluated twice before they can obtain medical cannabis. There may be additional costs associated with visiting another doctor.

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Conclusion

The process of getting a medical cannabis card can be complicated, but NuggMD is here to help. 

NuggMD has streamlined the process of getting a medical cannabis card in many states. We can help you connect with a knowledgeable doctor willing to talk about medical cannabis. NuggMD can also help you understand and navigate your state’s registration process. 

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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