Doctors and Medical Marijuana Cards: What You Need to Know

Despite Medical Marijuana being legal in Utah for some time now, there is still much confusion surrounding Medical Marijuana Cards and letters of recommendation from doctors. In simple terms, you cannot just go to any doctor in the state and get a card. Doctors don’t even issue cards.

If you are confused about the whole doctor thing, be aware that now is the time to educate yourself. Letters of recommendation will no longer be accepted at Utah marijuana dispensaries from 2021. Beginning in 2021, you must have a Medical Marijuana Card issued by the state to purchase products at Utah dispensaries.

We would be happy to meet with you in our clinic and discuss your need for a card. If you are not local to Salt Lake City or Ogden, you may have to look elsewhere for a qualified medical provider.

Who Counts As a Qualified Provider?

Qualified medical providers under Utah’s Medical Marijuana law are providers who have met state requirements to recommend cannabis products. Before they can even apply, individuals have to be licensed medical professionals according to Utah regulations. A person with no medical training or licensing cannot become a qualified provider even if they could meet the other requirements.

That said, a licensed medical provider must take an educational course in order to be qualified to recommend Medical Marijuana. There are both live and online courses available. A typical course covers Utah’s Medical Marijuana law along with an introduction to the human endocannabinoid system.

Approved medical providers are expected to address any additional training or education they might feel is necessary to ensure they can recommend Medical Marijuana safely. Many of us have taken advantage of the extra educational resources offered by course providers.

Not Only Doctors

Doctors are already allowed to prescribe controlled substances by virtue of their licenses. Therefore, they need do nothing more than complete the required Medical Marijuana course to become a qualified provider. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are in a slightly different position. An NP or PA who meets the necessary requirements to write controlled substance prescriptions can also become qualified providers.

However, there is a caveat in the state of Utah. NPs and PAs must have permission from their supervising physicians to recommend Medical Marijuana. In almost every case, this permission is delegated through explicit language in the delegation of service agreement between the two. As long as supervising physicians are okay with it, and NPs and PAs are good to go.

This is beneficial for patients inasmuch as they do not necessarily need to have a family doctor or GP who also acts as a qualified provider. Patients can go to clinics that specialize in Medical Marijuana Cards and nothing else. This is obviously not the preferred course of action, but it may be a patient’s only choice if his or her GP is not a qualified provider under state law.

Providers Do Not Issue Medical Cannabis Cards

In closing this post, we want to make it clear that qualified medical providers do not issue Medical Marijuana Cards in the state of Utah. All we can do is certify whether or not a patient meets the legal conditions to use cannabis products medically. We perform a medical evaluation, ask questions, discuss things with the patient, and make recommendations from there.

To get a card, patients take the paperwork we provide and submit it to the state along with the required application and associated fee. If you still need to find a QMP, you can schedule a visit with us online or call 801.851.5554.

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Published January 25, 2021

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