What’s the Average Salary for a Medical Marijuana Caregiver?
Becoming a medical marijuana caregiver can be a profitable enterprise in certain states if you have a green thumb or are prepared to learn. In some states with medical marijuana programs, caregivers can grow and sell cannabis to up to five patients, typically at higher prices than dispensaries.
While most caregivers hold other full-time positions while caring for a patient (who is often a family member), others have successfully turned their caregiving into a business. Understanding the legal limitations involved—and looking at medical marijuana caregiver salary examples by state—can help you decide whether this path might be right for you.
How MMJ Caregivers Make Money
First of all, it's important to understand that any money that MMJ caregivers make is direct income from growing and selling marijuana to their patients. Your state government won't pay you for becoming a caregiver and you won't receive a salary with benefits from an employer like you would with other jobs.
Rather, making money as a caregiver in the marijuana industry is more like starting your own dispensary brand, except that you know who your customers are and the products they'll need from the start.
Potential Salary Range
The actual amount you can earn from becoming an MMJ caregiver depends on:
How many marijuana plants you are allowed to grow as a caregiver
How many patients you are allowed to have
What the going rate is for one ounce of medical marijuana in your location
Whether you are allowed to sell cannabis to your patients
Whether you have to pay taxes on the cannabis you sell
Whether you have employees
The initial outlay and ongoing cost of goods sold
Pennsylvania - One-Person Operation
In Pennsylvania, caregivers can earn up to $60,000-$75,000 per year growing and selling marijuana to five registered patients. However, the net income would likely be lower after subtracting expenses.
Maine - One or Two Person Operation
Caregivers in Maine are allowed to grow and sell marijuana to up to five patients each, and many have made cultivation their full-time job. Start-up costs are around $15,000, and full-time caregivers typically make $30,000-$50,000 per year (roughly $24,000-$45,000 after expenses).
Under Maine law, MMJ caregivers are now allowed to have one employee, which would reduce the caregiver's total net income but also allow patients with physical limitations to become caregivers and earn money growing cannabis at home.
Can You Earn a Caregiver Salary in Arizona?
Here in Arizona, caregivers are allowed to have up to five patients at a time. However, Arizona law doesn’t allow a caregiver to charge a fee for their service or sell marijuana. To do this, you would have to open a dispensary and pay the AZ cultivation license cost. As a designated caregiver, however, you are allowed to receive reimbursement for costs incurred in the process of caregiving, including the direct costs of growing cannabis.
To become a qualifying patient's caregiver, you need to be at least 21 and apply for an MMJ caregiver's card through the Arizona Department of Health Services at a cost of $200 for two years. Before applying for their card, the patient will need to undergo an MMJ telemedicine appointment or in-person appointment with a qualified doctor (to confirm eligibility) and pay the $150 fee ($75 for SNAP recipients).
How a Medical Marijuana Caregiver Salary Compares to an Entry-Level Position
If you compare the average medical marijuana caregiver salary in Maine or Pennsylvania to the salaries of cannabis industry employees, you'll see that it's very similar—with the added responsibilities of managing your grow operation and caring for your patients.
On a national average, a medical marijuana grower earns around $26,000-70,000 per year and a junior grower earns around $30,000-70,000 per year, before taxes. In California, a marijuana grow owner-operator can earn upwards of $100,000 per year.
Becoming a Marijuana Caregiver Is Rewarding
In most parts of the country, you won’t be able to earn a living as a medical marijuana caregiver. Caregivers tend to be family members and close friends who want to help improve a loved one’s quality of life, and they do this by purchasing (or growing) and administering cannabis on behalf of a patient in need.
It might not make you rich, but it can be richly rewarding when you’re able to help someone overcome debilitating pain or other life-altering symptoms. If you have the opportunity to become a caregiver, don’t pass it up!