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Adults can make decisions for themselves, and medical marijuana laws empower them to access medical marijuana.


But what happens with children? After all, the ailments that usually require medical marijuana treatment do not discriminate between adults and minors; diseases like treatment-resistant seizure disorders, cancer, terminal illness, and many other conditions affect children too.


In states where recreational marijuana is legal, adults can rely on widely available marijuana for their health needs, but unfortunately, minors can’t buy recreational marijuana.


More so, when it comes to chronically-ill children and medical marijuana, participating in a medical marijuana treatment program is essential to medical cannabis access.


So, can minors get medical cards? 


A picture of a prescription refill form with a marijuana nugget, and oil on top of it.

Medical Marijuana Card: The Compulsory Age Requirement


Like most controlled substances, including cigarettes and alcohol, recreational marijuana use is limited to adults only, starting at either age 18 or 21, depending on state regulations.


In fact, some states refer to their legal recreational policies and programs as “Adult Use Marijuana” on their official government websites instead of calling them recreational.


This means that getting medical marijuana for children is still illegal if you don’t have a medical program in your state and a medical card for your child under 18.


Most parents want to set a responsible example for their children by following laws. Also, they can’t risk the fees, legal expenses, and other problems involved in a marijuana violation.


Even if they strongly believe medical marijuana will help their child, they can’t afford to take the risk.


Fortunately, this doesn’t mean children are doomed to suffer because they can’t apply for medical cannabis. It is still possible to get a medical card under 18.

Quality Requirements of the Patient


A state medical treatment program leads states to create medical purchasing systems designed to ensure product quality control. Why? Because medical marijuana is a medication and must meet very stringent quality control and dosage requirements.


On the other hand, artisanal weed is for fun and relaxation. Consequently, it doesn’t have to meet rigorous CBD and THC content standards.


But if you are using cannabis for medical reasons, it is important that you know the exact amount of chemicals in your medication to ensure the best therapeutic response.


Unless you are growing and testing your own quality CBD products, you’ll also want to have qualified and reputable dispensaries that state regulators have vetted and licensed.


Ensuring quality products and services are part of a state’s overall medical marijuana program.


These benefits are available to medical card holders, and children should have access to them. 

Common Qualifying Conditions for Patients Under 18


When it comes to medical cannabis, states have specific regulations, including a list of qualifying health conditions for a medical card, especially for patients under 18. 


It’s essential to understand that each state may have different requirements and what is permissible in one state might not be in another. Below are some common qualifying conditions recognized in various states for minors to receive medical cannabis:


  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Irreversible Spinal Cord Injury with Objective Neurological Indication of Intractable Spasticity
  • Severe Epilepsy
  • Terminal Illness Requiring End-Of-Life Care
  • Uncontrolled Intractable Seizure Disorder
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • Intractable Neuropathic Pain that Is Unresponsive to Standard Medical Treatments
  • Tourette Syndrome for patients who have failed standard medical treatment

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Medical Marijuana Card?


Fortunately, as awareness about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis grows, more states have established medical marijuana programs.


And thankfully, many of those states extend medical marijuana treatment to minors with a qualifying condition that is treatable by cannabis. 


Minors can’t apply for medical marijuana cards by themselves. Hence, their parents or adult guardians must apply for cards on their behalf and apply for required caregiver cards.


In states where recreational weed isn’t legal until age 21, patients who are 18-20 may be able to get a medical card independently.


The parent or primary caregiver must purchase, store, and administer the natural cannabis medication because minors cannot enter the medical marijuana dispensaries or manage their own marijuana. 


Sometimes, caregiver card reciprocity may make the caregivers and patients eligible for temporary licenses in some states during visits and vacations. This allows treatment to continue even when your family is traveling.


Using medical marijuana for kids means that your child does not have to wait until they are adults to start treating medical conditions holistically with natural medicine. And as a parent, you don’t have to make hard choices between helping your child and following cannabis laws.


However, the answer to “Can minors get medical cards in my state?” still varies. You will need to check your state’s rules and regulations to know more about your options. 

How to Get a Medical Card Under 18


After determining whether your state offers marijuana medical programs for children, the next thing is to learn about the rules in your state.


Generally, here are some factors you may need to consider. 

Varying Medical Qualification & Treatment Considerations


Since children are still growing and developing, states have to weigh their use of medications or therapeutic treatments even more carefully than they do for adults.


And since researchers don’t know everything about the effects of cannabinoids on brain development yet, states tend to take a conservative stance, creating medical programs that only allow marijuana in limited circumstances when potential benefits are believed to far outweigh potential risks.


This means that in some states, you can only use marijuana to treat a few conditions, consequently limiting the qualifying conditions that allow your child access to an under 18 medical card.


Other states may require that you try other treatments. For example, if your child has epilepsy, you may need to show that you have used traditional anti-seizure medications and that the medications weren’t effective.

An illustration of a sitting doctor checking out a child on top of a doctor's table.



The level of medical monitoring and treatment children require is also understandably more intense and may vary by state. These varying requirements may include one or more of the following:


  • Two physicians must sign off before issuing a medical card for an under-18.
  • The treating physician must be a licensed pediatrician instead of a general practitioner.
  • The physicians must do additional follow-up and monitoring.


Apart from those above, some states require in-person visits, while others allow telehealth. Some states even limit the treatment of patients under 18 with a medical card to CBD (cannabidiol) only. This is also the case for adults in some states.


Why? Because CBD does not produce the psychoactive “high” experience that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) causes. 

Identification Verification & Background Checks for Under 18


Just like any other application for medical marijuana, a medical card under 18 will require identity verification. And this applies to both the caregiver and the minor.


Basically, you’ll need to do the following:


  1. Obtain an ID for your child or provide proof with a birth certificate
  2. Undergo background checks (for caregivers)
  3. Provide proof of residency in the state where you are applying. 

The basic steps:


  • Check the rules of your state regarding medical cards for minors
  • Determine if your child’s medical condition and treatment history qualify in your state
  • Work with your child’s medical providers to fulfill the state’s requirements for medical documentation
  • Complete the state applications for both the minor and caregiver cards
    • Includes identification and residency verification, background checks where required, and payment of applicable fees 

Minor Patient Application Information 


Applying for a medical cannabis card for minor patients involves a specific process, and understanding the timeline is crucial for a smooth application experience. Here’s what you need to know about the application process:

Application Processing Time


The processing time for a minor patient’s medical cannabis card application can take up to three weeks. This period allows the relevant authorities to review the application thoroughly and ensure that all criteria are met.

Issuance of Registry ID Card


Once the application is approved, the Registry ID card, which is essential for accessing medical cannabis, will be issued within the next five days. This card is a critical component, as it formally recognizes the patient’s eligibility to receive medical cannabis under state laws.

Handling Denied Applications


In cases where an application is denied, applicants will be notified within the first 10 days of processing. The denial notice will typically include reasons for the denial and specific instructions on what additional information or documentation is required.

Opportunity to Resubmit


If an application is denied due to incomplete or insufficient information, applicants are generally given a window of six months to provide the missing information or documentation. This gives applicants ample time to gather and submit the necessary materials to complete their application.


Keep in mind that the specifics of the application process may vary slightly depending on state regulations and the particular system in place for handling medical cannabis applications. 


Always refer to your state’s medical cannabis program for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Some Interesting State Facts on Under 18 Medical Marijuana 


Since California’s laws are less strict than many states, people often ask if they can get a medical marijuana card for a minor in California.


Minors in California must have their parents’ or guardians’ approval and participation until they are 18 years old. But between 18-20, they can get their card independently (recreational marijuana is legal at 21.) 


One of the more interesting state developments occurred in Illinois, where the state enacted “Ashley’s Law” in 2018 due to the efforts of Ashley Surin and her family. 


Below is a brief about Ashley’s law.


  • It allows parents to administer medical cannabis on school property
  • The law allows specially trained school nurses to administer or oversee the administration by the child.
  • It applies to products that are edible, applied as a patch, oils, topicals, and other forms of marijuana that are not smokable. 


Ashley was twelve years old, and an early battle with leukemia had left her with debilitating, treatment-resistant seizures as a side effect of the chemotherapy.


CBD treatments helped her seizures and gave her a chance to be a normal kid.


You can read more about Ashley, her family, school, and the law here. 


Medical Card Under 18 FAQs


Do I have to be my child’s caregiver for them to have an MMJ card?


Yes, you will need to be your child’s caregiver in order for them to have a medical marijuana card unless they are legally emancipated. 


Does my child have to visit a physician to get an MMJ card?


Yes, your child will need to visit a physician who will need to examine whether your child can benefit from medical marijuana. The qualifying conditions will depend on the state. 


Which documents do I need to apply my child for medical marijuana? 


You will need to fill out your child’s application form, a caregiver form, identification, and proof of residency for yourself and your child if you are applying your child for an MMJ card. 

Medical Card Under 18: Elevate Holistics Makes It Easy


As a patient, parent, or caregiver, one thing you need to know about medical marijuana is that you need a guide to navigate the maze of regulations. That’s where we come in.


Elevate Holistics has all the information you need to help your child or patient make the most of medical marijuana. We can guide you on how to get a medical card under 18 and answer any canna-related questions you may have.


Can minors get medical cards? Yes, and Elevate Holistics can answer all your questions about it. Contact us today, and let’s get started.


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About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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