A standard prescription obtained from your doctor includes instructions on dosage and delivery. Those instructions are printed on the bottle. Doctors may consult with pharmacists about modifying their original instructions as needed. Do things work the same way with Medical Cannabis in Utah? Yes and no.
First of all, the state uses specific terms to refer to medical providers and pharmacists in the Medical Cannabis arena. Medical providers (doctors, physician assistants, etc.) are known as Qualified Medical Providers (QMPs); pharmacists are known as Pharmacy Medical Providers (PMPs).
The next thing to know is that Medical Cannabis recommendations are not the same thing as traditional prescriptions. Your QMP is not required by law to write out a detailed prescription the same way they would if prescribing antibiotics.
State law allows QMPs to submit directions for dosage and delivery guidelines at the time a patient is seeking to get a first Medical Cannabis card or renew an existing card. When a QMP chooses to do so, those directions are entered into the state's electronic verification system (EVS).
Entering information into the EVS is strictly for record-keeping purposes. QMPs, PMPs, and patients are not bound to those directions in the same way they would be for another type of prescription.
What happens if your QMP doesn't submit directions for dosage and delivery? You work with your PMP on that. Note that state law requires patients to consult with a PMP at least on their first visit. In essence, you can work with your PMP to determine delivery method, dosage, the best products for your condition, etc. In fact, the state encourages you to do so. Your local PMP’s job is to help patients like you maximize the benefits of using cannabis medically.
From our point of view, it is best when the QMP and PMP work together. Your QMP best understands your medical history, and your current condition and prognosis. Your PMP adds to the QMP’s consultation by helping you find the best Medical Cannabis strains and delivery methods for your needs.
Cannabis interacts with the human body’s own endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which helps to regulate a variety of other systems within the body. Unfortunately, at many medical schools, future medical providers are given little to no education on the ECS.
Pharmacists, on the other hand, are well-versed in the ECS and how drugs like cannabis can play a role in a patient’s treatment plan.
Medical Marijuana is different from other prescription medications on multiple levels. It is different in the sense that QMPs are not required to write out detailed dosing recommendations. They can if they want to, but they can also allow PMPs to handle it.
Some medical providers aren't comfortable writing Medical Cannabis dosing recommendations due to a lack of knowledge, so we think it’s great that they’re allowed to pass that responsibility to PMPs.
Now that QMPs can leave delivery and dosage instructions to PMPs, we hope more medical providers will seek certification to become QMPs and help more Utah patients Feel Better.