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Can Assisted Living and Memory Care Residents Use CBD? A State-by-State Guide

Last Updated: May 25, 2021

Introduction

CBD (Cannabidiol) as an alternative to mainstream pharmaceuticals is gaining popularity as a treatment for symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, as well as other related dementias. However, many individuals with these conditions reside in assisted living or other communities specially designed for persons with dementia. In these communities, often called “memory care,” residents often receive assistance managing their medications.

Because the legal status of CBD is rapidly changing, and laws governing CBD usage are different in various states, many families wonder if CBD is available to assisted living residents. What if those residents do not manage their own medications? What about where persons with dementia cannot manage their own medications, but have had positive experiences with CBD for treating symptoms?

 The good news: or the majority of residents living in assisted living or memory care communities, CBD is a legal option and can be used. The more difficult news: Doing so will take some logistical planning by the resident’s family.

 

CBD Legality in the United States

The U.S. federal government, with the passage of 2018’s Farm Bill, essentially legalized the hemp plant that turns into CBD. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant that produces marijuana, but legal hemp cannot get you “high” like marijuana because it contains very low THC (the compound that produces the high effect). The Farm Bill allowed hemp-derived products, including CBD, to be produced commercially so long as they adhere to low-THC guidelines. Unlike marijuana, CBD is 100% non-psychoactive, meaning there is no impact on a user’s ability to think.

That doesn’t mean hemp-derived CBD is legal throughout the U.S., because of course it’s more complicated. States make their own drug laws, and because hemp was so recently made legal by the federal government, CBD remains in a legal gray area as the laws slowly change. States are incorporating medicinal and even fully legalized recreational marijuana programs, but this process is slower in some states than others.

Authorities in Idaho, for instance, maintain that buying or possessing CBD in the state is illegal unless it contains absolutely zero THC. Zero-percent CBD is not necessarily “rare,” but it is harder to find than CBD with a very low percentage (even 0.3% or less) of THC. In Texas, the state government has been so strict on cracking down on CBD sellers, even since the Farm Bill passed, that some retailers who might normally carry it have said they would rather avoid the hassle. On the other hand, wellness businesses in several states including Washington and California sell several kinds of CBD products over-the-counter in stores throughout the state, because the government there interprets its drug-enforcement responsibilities differently.

In late 2020, South Dakota was the only state where cannabinoids (substances from cannabis) were considered illegal for all purposes, but that is scheduled to change when a new legalization law approved by voters goes into effect in July 2021.

 Is Zero-Percent CBD Better?
Studies have shown there are fewer medical benefits in zero-THC CBD, because other compounds in cannabis, including THC, can help with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This is called the “entourage effect.”

 

CBD Legality in Assisted Living / Memory Care

Residents of assisted living and memory care communities are usually subject to the same laws as all state residents, so one would think that if CBD is legal at home it would also be legal to consume in assisted living or memory care. Just because CBD is legal, however, does not mean it’s allowed in assisted living homes, especially if the home receives federal funding (usually through Medicare and Medicaid).

An assisted living or memory care home might not allow CBD use by residents, even if CBD and other cannabinoids are legal in the state. The reason a home might have rules against CBD for residents is that CBD drugs have not been reviewed and approved by the FDA. CBD has been demonstrated as beneficial for many problems that affect particularly older adults, including depression, sleep trouble, loss of appetite, and symptoms specific to dementia like inflammation in the brain. However, only one drug with CBD actually has FDA approval: Epidiolex, prescribed strictly for rare forms of epilepsy. Homes that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding, therefore, want to abide closely by federal government rules and therefore probably would not want non-FDA-approved medications like CBD oils and creams to be used by their residents.

If your loved one in assisted living needs help with administering medication, and this is often the case for residents in memory care, a standard rule is that assistance is only allowed with medications that are FDA-approved. Helping administer non-FDA-approved drugs could jeopardize federal funding. It is always best to check with the specific residence to determine if CBD would present a problem. As CBD has only recently become commonplace, many assisted living administrators may have not previously encountered this scenario. Homes that don’t receive Medicaid or Medicare money will probably allow CBD use if it’s legal in the state, even for residents who need help with medication administration.

 Did You Know? Free assistance is available to help families find assisted living and memory care residences in which the consumption of CBD is allowed. Start a search here

 

State-by-State Laws on CBD in Assisted Living / Memory Care

Using CBD in Assisted Living / Memory Care Residences – State by State Law (Updated May 2021)
State Assisted Living Memory Care / Alzheimer’s Care
Alabama CBD from industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Alabama. Assisted living residents in Alabama can manage and administer their own medications, therefore they should be permitted to use CBD. Residents may have their medications administered only by a licensed caregiver. So, while CBD is legal, specific residences may have policies against its use. Check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Alaska CBD is legal. Residents are administered medications according to their individual assisted-living plans, and may be allowed to self-administer. Assisted living residents in Alaska, therefore, should be permitted to use CBD if it is included in their plans. Family members of Alaskan residents with Alzheimer’s seeking CBD should work with communities to update individual assisted-living plans.
Arizona CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Arizona. Medications may be administered by licensed nurses, certified assisted living managers, and trained caregivers. So, while CBD is legal, specific residences may have policies against its use. Check with residence for its policy on CBD. Facilities in Arizona with “directed care services” likewise require medications be administered by licensed nurses, certified assisted living managers, and trained caregivers. Check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Arkansas CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Arkansas. Staff may assist administration of medications but, depending on the level of care needed, might not be permitted to administer medications themselves. Assisted living residents, therefore, should be permitted to use CBD, but residents with special health needs should check the community’s policy on CBD. “Alzheimer’s Special Care Units” for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Arkansas require individual support plans, and staff must be trained in administration of medications. While CBD is legal in Arkansas, check with residence for its policy on CBD.
California CBD is legal in California and assisted living residents are permitted to self-administer medications. Use of CBD should therefore be permitted. Residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia requiring administration of medication by a trained healthcare professional should check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Colorado CBD is legal in Colorado and residents may possess and self-administer any personal medication. Use of CBD should therefore be permitted. Colorado regulations require an enhanced resident care plan for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This may affect administration of medications and though CBD is legal, check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Connecticut Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Connecticut, and marijuana-derived CBD is legal with a prescription. A licensed nurse may administer medication in Connecticut assisted living residences, so check with residence for its policy on CBD. Care plans for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Connecticut should include medication administration, so though CBD is legal in Connecticut, check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Delaware CBD will less than 7% THC is legal in Delaware, but stricter medication management regulations (including quarterly reviews) mean residents there should check for a policy on CBD. Delaware facilities establish their own written policies for managing medications, including in residences housing persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Check with residence for its policy on CBD.
Washington D.C. CBD is legal in Washington D.C. and the use of CBD should therefore be legal, but residents must be individually assessed for their ability to self-administer, and it may be important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD. An individual assessment determines the extent to which residents need help with medications, so it is important to check with memory care communities for their policies on CBD.
Florida CBD is legally available by prescription in Florida as officials continue the process of full legalization in the state. Because assisted living staff there supervise self-administration of medications, it’s important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD. Assisted living and memory care staff administer medications for Florida patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia who cannot self-administer, so check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Georgia Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Georgia, and because assisted living residents can self-administer medications, they should be permitted to use CBD. Certified aides give medications to patients in Georgia who cannot self-administer, including persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Hawaii Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Hawaii. Hawaii assisted living communities vary their policies on self-administration of medications, but medications must be reviewed every 90 days, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD. Hawaii memory care facilities must review medications every 90 days, so check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Idaho CBD is illegal in Idaho unless it contains 0% THC, which makes it difficult to find. Also, medication regimens must be reviewed by staff on a quarterly basis. Check with residences for their policies on CBD, but Idaho’s strict laws make it probably unavailable for assisted living residents. Check with residences for their policies on CBD, but Idaho’s strict laws make it probably unavailable for memory care residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Illinois CBD is legal in Illinois. Because assisted living residents can self-administer medications, they should be permitted to take CBD. Licensed personnel in Illinois may administer medications for memory care residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Indiana CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Indiana, so assisted living residents there should be permitted to take CBD, but each residence outlines its own policy on administering medication, so it is important to check for its policy. Memory care communities in Indiana outline their own policies on administering medication, so it is important to check a residence’s policy on CBD.
Iowa Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is technically legal in Iowa, but law-enforcement has cracked down as state marijuana law may still classify CBD as a controlled substance. Residents in Iowa may self-administer medications but should check with residences on CBD policy. Close monitoring of medications in memory care communities in Iowa make it unlikely CBD would be available for persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but because it is technically legal in low-THC form, interested parties should consult residence policy.
Kansas CBD with 0% THC is legal in Kansas, but a residence can decide whether to allow a patient to self-administer medication, so check for its policy on CBD. If a resident’s medication is managed by memory care community staff, which is likely for persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a quarterly review is required. It is therefore important to check with the residence for its policy on CBD.
Kentucky Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Kentucky, and facilities are not permitted to manage residents’ medications. CBD should therefore be allowed. Kentucky residents who cannot self-administer medications must work with a designated representative or licensed healthcare professional to build a program for medications. CBD should be allowed, if it is part of this program.
Louisiana CBD with 0.3% THC is legal in Louisiana, and should be allowed in residences, but because staff may supervise and assist medication management in accordance with resident’s individual plans, it’s best to check a residence’s policy. Residents in Louisiana who need assistance with medication, like persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia, are provided that assistance according to a pre-formulated plan which may include CBD, but it’s probably best to check with residences for their policies on CBD.
Maine CBD is legal in Maine. Because Maine assisted living residents may self-administer medications, CBD should be allowed. Administration of meds by memory care community staff is permitted for patients who need it, so while specific forms of CBD are legal, residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia who are interested in its use should check with residences for their policies on CBD.
Maryland Hemp-extracted CBD is legal in Maryland, so residents should be allowed to use it. But because a licensed pharmacist reviews medications in Maryland assisted living communities, it’s best to check with residences for their policies on CBD. Medications for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia are administered by trained staff, so anyone interested should check with residences for their policies on CBD.
Massachusetts CBD is legal in Massachusetts and residents there may self-administer medications, so CBD should be allowed. Help administering medications to persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Massachusetts memory care residences may only be provided by a family member, licensed health-care professional, or registered nurse. CBD, again, should be allowed, but check with the residence for its policy.
Michigan CBD is legal in Michigan. Because assisted living residences in Michigan must follow instructions from doctors or health-care professionals, residents interested in CBD should speak with a doctor about acquiring CBD. CBD might be available to Michigan memory care residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia if it is doctor recommended, but check with a residence for its policy.
Minnesota Hemp-derived CBD recently became legal in Minnesota, but residents interested in CBD should be cautious and check with a residence on its CBD policy. An initial assessment of medications is required for all residents who need assistance taking medication, so check with a residence on its CBD policy.
Mississippi Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.5% CBD is legal in Mississippi, and because residents there are allowed to self-administer, CBD should be permitted. Licensed personnel in Mississippi may administer medications in memory care communities, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Missouri Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Missouri, but only for medicinal purposes. Residents interested in CBD should attain a prescription from a doctor and check with a residence on its CBD policy. Residents in memory care communities in Missouri must have their medications reviewed bi-monthly, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Montana Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Montana, and assisted living residents there may self-administer medications, so CBD should be allowed. Memory care communities in Montana are considered “Category C” and monitor medication administration quite closely, so residents should check with facilities for their policies on CBD.
Nebraska Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Nebraska, but residents might not be allowed to self-administer medications. Ask a residence about its CBD policy. Medications must be reviewed at least annually by a registered nurse, and there may be rules against CBD. Check with a residence about its policy.
Nevada CBD is legal in Nevada and assisted living residents may self-administer medications there, so CBD should be allowed. Detailed medication plans are required for Nevada residences like memory care communities where patients are administered their medications by staff, so check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
New Hampshire Hemp-derived CBD is legal in New Hampshire, and assisted living residents may self-administer medications, so CBD should be allowed. Medications for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia in New Hampshire memory care communities are administered by licensed staff, so residents should check a facility for its policy on CBD.
New Jersey Hemp-derived CBD is legal in New Jersey, but because certified staff may be required to help with medications, it’s best to check with a facility for its policy on CBD. Medications for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia in New Jersey memory care facilities are administered by licensed staff, so residents should check a residence for its policy on CBD.
New Mexico CBD is legal in New Mexico, but assisted living residences are responsible for administration of medications, so check with a residence regarding its policy on CBD. Memory care facilities in New Mexico may have their own policies regarding CBD and its administration, so check with residence.
New York CBD is newly legal in New York, and assisted living residents may self-administer medications. Residents interested in CBD should check with a residence on its policy. Memory-care residents in New York with Alzheimer’s or dementia should check with communities for their policies on CBD.
North Carolina Hemp-derived CBD is technically legal in North Carolina, but state officials have said they consider edible CBD illegal. Residents interested in CBD should check residences policies and may want to avoid CBD-infused foods or drinks. Trained staff may administer medications in North Carolina memory care communities but interested residents should check a residence’s policy on CBD.
North Dakota Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in North Dakota, but assisted living residents there should still check with their community for policies regarding CBD. Trained staff may administer medications to memory care residents in North Dakota, but check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Ohio Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Ohio, and CBD with THC is legal with a prescription. These are fairly recent changes to law, so check with a residence for its CBD policy. Qualified staff may administer medications in memory care residences, so check with a residence about its CBD policy. .
Oklahoma Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Oklahoma and medications may be self-administered, so residents should be allowed to use CBD. Qualified staff in Oklahoma memory care residences may administer medication as needed, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Oregon CBD is legal in Oregon, but self-administration of medications may depend on the residence, so check for policies on CBD. Individual assessments of medications are required in memory care residences in Oregon, so it is important to check with a facility for its policy on CBD.
Pennsylvania Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Pennsylvania, and assisted living residents may self-administer, so CBD should be allowed. Certified staff must assist Pennsylvania memory care residents who need help taking medication, always according to a detailed quarterly updated support plan, so it is best to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Rhode Island Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Rhode Island, but because a nurse review is required for medications in all Rhode Island assisted living homes, it’s important to check with residences for their policies on CBD. Licensed employees must help administer medications in Rhode Island for residents in memory care, so it’s important to check with residences for their policies on CBD.
South Carolina CBD with less than 0.9% THC is legal in South Carolina, but because assisted living communities individually determine whether patients may self-administer, it’s important to check with residences on whether they allow CBD. Trained facility staff may help memory care residents in South Carolina with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
South Dakota CBD remains illegal in South Dakota until July 2021. Check with a residence to see if the new law changes its policy on CBD. Residents in South Dakota memory care who need medication administration might not be allowed to take CBD. Ask a residence for its policy.
Tennessee CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Tennessee and residents may self-administer, so CBD should be allowed. Licensed professionals may assist memory care residents in Tennessee with their medications. It is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Texas CBD with less than 0.3% THC is newly legal in Texas, so check with a residence about its policy.. Residents in Texas memory care probably need help with medication administration, so it’s important to ask the home about its CBD policy. .
Utah Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% CBD, from a grower and seller registered with the state, is legal in Utah. Patients may self-administer, so legally obtained CBD should be allowed. There are multiple options for medication management for memory care residents in Utah, including assistance from licensed staff. Best to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Vermont CBDis legal in Vermont and residents may self-administer, so CBD should be allowed. Trained staff supervised by a licensed nurse may administer medications to residents in memory care, so it’s best to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Virginia Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Virginia, but because every assisted living residence in Virginia must have its own medication management plan, it’s important to check their policies on CBD. Regular reviews of medications for memory care residents are required in Virginia, so it’s important to check with a community for its policy on CBD.
Washington CBD is legal in Washington state and residents may self-administer, so CBD should be allowed. Staff in Washington memory care residences may assist with medications for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so despite its legality it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
West Virginia CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in West Virginia, but because only licensed staff may administer or supervise self-administered medications, it’s best to check with a residence for its policy on CBD. Residents in memory care in West Virginia should check their residence for the policy on CBD.
Wisconsin Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3 THC is legal in Wisconsin, but because medications in assisted living residences must be managed by a nurse or pharmacist, it’s best to check with a residence for its policy on CBD. Specially trained staff administers medications to memory care residents in Wisconsin, so it is important to check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
Wyoming CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Wyoming, but because all medication usage is supervised by a nurse, it’s best to check with a residence about its CBD policy. . Medications are reviewed and administered by a nurse in Wyoming memory care, so check with a residence for its policy on CBD.
 Did You Know? Another cannabinoid that might help with symptoms of dementia is called cannabigerol, or CBG, which comes from younger marijuana plants and is harder to find. For more on CBG, including a benefits comparison with CBD, click here.

 

Purchasing and Using CBD in Assisted Living / Memory Care

Assisted living communities do not usually provide pharmaceutical services themselves. Registered nurses who work for the residence might be able to obtain medications for residents based on their individual service plans, but more commonly the responsibility of filling prescriptions and even obtaining over-the-counter medications falls with the family of the resident. Families will deliver the medications to either the resident or to the administrators of the residence who centrally control medications on their residents’ behalf. Families provide the medications, manage re-fills and inform the staff of the prescription dosage and schedule.

In situations such as these, it is a relatively simple process for the family to obtain CBD from a state-licensed dispensary or purchase CBD legally online and provide the medication to the residence along with the patient’s other medications. It is very important, however, that they check with the residence ahead of time to make sure CBD is allowed in the residence. If a memory care home does not take money from the federal government and CBD is considered legal by the state (as it is almost everywhere), then there shouldn’t be a problem; if the home accepts payments via the government programs Medicare and Medicaid, however, it’s likely they will only allow FDA-approved medications, which would not include CBD (except to treat epilepsy).

CBD comes in many forms; it can be eaten, administered through a bath soak, vaped, or absorbed from a tincture (a drop of liquid under the tongue) or through the skin from a spray or patch (like a Band-Aid). Most CBD users prefer to consume it orally in capsule form. This option is probably best for elderly residents of assisted living and memory care communities as it would present the least amount of challenges to those responsible for medication management at the residence.

 CBD can be ordered online and delivered to one’s home, or assisted living residence with a 30, 60 or 90-day supply. Order here