We have had legal Medical Marijuana in Utah for a while now. In that time, we've definitely had some ups and downs within the program. It's clear now that finding a Qualified Medical Provider with a good customer service team behind them is important. Any Medical Cannabis patient can tell you that navigating the state website and legal requirements can be a challenging feat.
In 2020, once you had seen a QMP, you received a letter of recommendation to use Medical Cannabis and were able to register that letter with one pharmacy. Many Utah Medical Cannabis patients held on to their letter for the year and didn't worry about getting their card until absolutely necessary. If you're interested, I had written an article to help educate Medical Cannabis patients about getting their letter converted to a card to gain access to more pharmacies in Utah and stay current in the program. Letters are no longer a part of the Utah Medical Cannabis program, so it's not relevant anymore, but still an interesting read.
If you're still wondering how to get started, watch this short video about how to get your Medical Card on our homepage. Now, let’s say you have your Medical Cannabis Card and want to know the process over the next few years. Settle in, and let's navigate the first two years together.
On January 3, 2021, the Utah Department of Health began issuing Medical Cannabis cards with expiration dates of six months after the patient's initial consultation.
Before then, new Medical Cannabis patients needed to have a follow-up visit with a QMP after 90 days. Although the 90-day expiration date has changed to six months, I still recommend visiting with a QMP after 90 days. That's why Utah Therapeutic Health Center continues to offer 90-day visits at no cost for our patients.
This is best practice. Nobody starts new cholesterol medication without keeping their provider in the loop on the experience and effectiveness of the medication. Medical Marijuana is no different. Your provider needs to know how cannabis use has affected you and your condition.
Just before your initial Medical Cannabis Card expires, our Patient Experience team reaches out to you by phone. We double-check the accuracy of the health information in your file, answer questions, request dosing changes from your provider on your behalf, and walk you through the renewal process on the EVS website.
The card you get after this first renewal is valid for six months. So, you'd think that now you don’t need to see your provider again for another six months, right? Wrong. State law, Medical Cannabis best practice, and national guidelines require medical providers to physically see their Medical Cannabis patients twice a year, or every six months. This usually will not match up with their card expiration date. Why the discrepancy? I wish we knew. Call it growing pains.
About six months, you’ll need to schedule a follow-up visit with your provider. While you must meet face-to-face with your provider for your initial visit, you can do your follow-up with a telemedicine visit if your provider offers that. Good news: Utah Therapeutic Health Center does! Please note that telemedicine visits are subject to availability and are offered under limited circumstances. Call us at 801-851-5554 to ask about arranging a telemedicine visit.
Providers usually charge for this six-month visit, just like going in for a check-up with your family doctor.
During your follow-up visit, we’ll discuss new medications and health history and check up on your therapy. We’ll answer any questions you have and go over the products you have tried to ensure you're using them appropriately. We also use these visits to educate patients on Utah law, changes to the program, and changes to EVS.
If you have already seen a QMP when your expiration date nears, this can be done by phone and without additional fees. If the expiration date coincides with the six-month visit, all of these things can be done together. After this update, the card will be valid for another six months. This brings the total time to about one year from the initial evaluation and recommendation.
About 12 months after the first time you see your QMP, you’ll need to see them again by telemedicine or in person. At the one-year visit, your pathway can change depending on how your Medical Cannabis treatment has progressed. After the first year of Medical Cannabis treatment, you can go one year between visits with your provider’s approval. It is completely up to your QMP how often you are seen after the first year. In my opinion, patients should be seen at an interval of six months. That being said, from a financial and safety standpoint, many patients of our clinic will likely be approved to go one year between visits.
Say that your QMP offers you a one-year timeline. Once renewed, your profile will reflect this and your Medical Cannabis Card won't expire for a full year. Dosing and delivery changes will need QMP approval, and that may require another visit. No dosing or delivery changes for you? Then simply enjoy 365 days of program participation! If nothing major changes and your Medical Cannabis treatment has been stable up to this point, then you will carry on as usual. Your dosage limit will renew every 28 days until you see your provider the following year.
Whether or not your provider recommends six-month or one-year follow-up visits depends on many factors, like dosing, medical history, medications, and best practice. Yes, certain patients and conditions require more frequent visits. We know that it can get expensive to see your provider every six months without insurance coverage, but if your health and safety depend on it, isn’t that worth it?
Please comment below with any questions you have about the first two years of the Utah Medical Cannabis program.
*regularly updated for accuracy*