Growers Network Staff

November 29, 2018 6 min read
November 29, 2018
6 min read


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Today we’re going to discuss the legal concerns that you might face if you would like to be a cannabis caregiver.

The following is an article produced by a contributing author. Growers Network does not endorse nor evaluate the claims of our contributors, nor do they influence our editorial process. We thank our contributors for their time and effort so we can continue our exclusive Growers Spotlight service.

So you want to be a caregiver?

Well, that’s pretty cool. Cannabis not only needs qualified growers, it also needs business owners who know what they're doing. Providing cannabis as a caregiver is an intermediate step that allows you to start your own cannabusiness without overburdening yourself by jumping into the deep end.

So with that said, let's ask some legal questions before we immediately jump in!


Editor’s Note : Much of the information presented in this article will focus on the United States, which is where Growers Network is based. However, the information should still be applicable regardless of what country you live in.

At Growers Network, we’re about the legal cannabis industry. None of that black market stuff. So the first question you’ll need to answer when planning for your legal caregiver grow is… can I even grow? This should go without saying, but if you live in a state or country where cannabis isn’t legal for consumption, then the answer is a definite no.

But, if you happen to live in a state or country where cannabis is legal for consumption, then you’ll need to answer a few questions:

1. Are there MMJ laws on the books?

To answer this question, you’ll need to do some research or speak with a local expert. If you live in the United States, there are some handy resources online that can give you a rough estimate on your state’s outlook on cannabis.

If you live in another country, both Wikipedia and Cannabis Business Times can help you determine what laws are on your country’s books.

In either situation, take the time to read the laws surrounding cannabis use and production thoroughly. Legalese can be a bit of a headache, but the old adage of "measure twice, cut once" really applies in this case.

2. Has your state (or country) established a caregiver program?

Once you’ve confirmed that your state or country allows medical cannabis, you then need to know the rules surrounding production and sale of the cannabis. If you live in a state or country that has decriminalized cannabis use, but has not legalized cannabis production, you are probably out of luck. Alternatively, if you live in a state that has legalized cannabis production, but has no program available for caregivers, you may run into trouble.

If you live in the US, I recommend first checking the NCIA’s detailed map on cannabis rules, and if you’re feeling confident, calling the state agency responsible for monitoring cannabis. If you live outside of the US, your best bet is to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with cannabis law in your country. They should be able to tell you what programs are available for production and if a caregiver program is in place.

Some states, such as Arizona (where I live) provide useful resources online for all relevant statutes. Look for helpful resources such as these in your search!

3. Does your municipality or county allow cannabis production?

This is a somewhat finer point, but at least in the United States, municipalities and counties can veto cannabis production in their jurisdiction altogether, even if it is legal in your state. You will need to call up both your city and county clerks and ask them what the rules are regarding cannabis cultivation there. If it’s not allowed, your only recourse will to be relocate to a different jurisdiction, or elect officials who will change the rules.

Editor's Note : We have spoken with several grows that have had to relocate due to county or municipality rules. This is an important question to answer!

4. Presuming that you are allowed to be a caregiver, what are the steps required to become one?

The rules for how to legally become a caregiver will vary by jurisdiction. In Arizona, for example, a qualified patient must legally designate you as their caregiver. Depending on the jurisdiction, rules may be more or less stringent.

Every jurisdiction is different. You will need to go online or call your state or country’s cannabis control agency and find out what the process looks like for you. Get all the relevant forms you will need from the agency, and check in with a lawyer about the process. You want to have all angles covered in the event of liability.

5. Where in your locale can you legally cultivate?

While we will cover the practical concerns of cultivation, you also have to pay attention to your state's or country's rules regarding the physical location of your grow, in addition to your city’s zoning laws.

For example, in US state law, it is not an uncommon requirement for any cannabis cultivation site to be located several thousand feet to a few miles away from any school. In Arizona, caregivers additionally may only produce cannabis for patients who are >25 miles away from their nearest dispensary. These kinds of legal restrictions can place a massive burden on your cultivation, so it is an important thought to consider.

If the rules regarding cultivation as a caregiver are too prohibitive, it may be wiser to try getting hired by your nearest producer or dispensary.


Once you've answered these legal questions, you've gotten a lot of the groundwork done. There are other legal considerations involved in cannabis grows, but most of those will depend on specific local zoning laws and taxes, which is a bit too specific for the scope of this article. Remember that if you’re ever in doubt, call the government cannabis control agency for your jurisdiction, and consult with a lawyer. Nobody should be going to jail over a plant.

And if you’re still with us on this journey, that’s awesome! We’ll go over some more practical details in the next set of planning articles.

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About the Author

Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.

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