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Medical Cannabis Caregiver

Who can be a caregiver and what is their role?

I have written about the importance of designating a caregiver for someone who is disabled, incapacitated or seriously ill. I thought it would be interesting for readers to hear from an actual caregiver of a disabled Illinois medical cannabis patient. In this case, she is the caregiver of her husband.

She explained that she has the same privileges as the patients in gaining access to a medical dispensary product room; in Illinois, only registered patients and their caregivers are allowed inside. She can accompany her husband or go alone to purchase the product. She pointed out that with the high cost of medicine and the different product quality and availability from dispensary to dispensary, she likes to shop around. That means that she goes to different dispensaries to sample their product. This is further complicated by the fact that Illinois patients must chose one dispensary only from which to purchase their medicine. However, it is easy to change dispensaries by contacting the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), requesting a dispensary change. It can take as little as 24 hours for the change to go through.

She pointed out that with the passage of Terminal Illness as one of the latest qualifying conditions, there will be a big increase in the number of registered caregivers. Although, for the most part, caregivers are spouses, family members and friends of patients, there are patients who have to hire a caregiver to purchase their medicine. Not all patients with caregivers are disabled; a husband would be a great caregiver for his busy wife who is dealing with a job and kids and doesn’t have time to get to her dispensary.  In addition, everyone’s first thought is that a caregiver must be a family member when in fact a friend can also be a caregiver.

Every patient is entitled to designate a caregiver. One never knows what will happen in life, so it is highly recommended that every patient designates a caregiver when they first apply to become a medical cannabis patient. My interviewee wished that two caregivers were allowed per patient so that her husband could always get his medicine in the event she was ill and unable to go.

Please note that in the case of a minor child patient, with the passage of the new law SB 10 just last week, two caregivers are now allowed where only one was allowed previously. Approval signatures from two physicians are still required for a medical cannabis card for a minor child.

So, what are the requirements to become a caregiver?
In order to qualify, they must:
1. Not be a patient
2. Be at least 21 years old
3. Be an Illinois resident
4. May only assist a single patient at any given time
5. Have never been convicted of a felony drug crime or violent crime

The caregiver is required to fill out a form as part of the application process for the patient as well as be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. There is a fee to become a caregiver which remains at $75 for a 3 year renewal.

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