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Medical Marijuana Caregiver

The importance of designating a caregiver

Unfortunately, none of us has a crystal ball that can predict how long we will be physically active and able-bodied. But, if you are a medical cannabis user with a serious condition, it is very important to plan ahead in case you become incapacitated and cannot make it to your chosen dispensary to pick up your medicine. That’s where a designated caregiver comes in.

The caregiver, who is selected and authorized by a qualifying patient, may go to the dispensary and purchase medicine with the patient, or alone on his behalf. However, each qualifying patient has to apply for his caregiver to get a separate medical cannabis card. Approval can take anywhere from 30-45 days at the moment. There are other rules and regulations that must be followed.

1. A caregiver may only serve one qualified patient
2. A caregiver may not be a registered qualifying patient, herself
3. A caregiver may not receive payment specifically for her role in the MCPP but may receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred as a designated caregiver in her capacity as an outside health care provider. For example, an employee of a hospice provider, nursing or medical facility, visiting nurse, home health attendant or aide may collect her regular wages but not additional compensation as a designated medical cannabis caregiver.

So, how do you apply for a designated caregiver to receive a card? The most efficient way is to apply for a caregiver card during the initial patient application process. The caregiver needs to fill out a separate caregiver form known as the Application for Registry Identification Card for Qualifying Patients. Both the patient and the caregiver will need to be fingerprinted and go through a background check. The completed application is submitted for approval. However, a patient can apply for a designated caregiver to receive a card after the patient has already been approved.

Recently, I heard of a sad story where a patient became incapacitated and was unable to get his medicine since he had not selected a caregiver when he applied for his card. He has since applied for a caregiver to be added, but that process can take several weeks. As a result, he became seriously ill and was transferred to hospice care, in the meantime. Under Illinois law, there is nothing that his dispensary can do until his caregiver receives her approval. One never knows what curve balls life will throw at us, so it is best to be prepared.

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