If you haven't heard yet, a new rule regarding renewal of the Utah Medical Cannabis Card went quietly into effect earlier this year. The new card renewal rules eliminate the ninety-day term of a new patient's initial card and replace it with a six-month term. Suffice it to say that this is good news. But what does it mean for you?
Before we get into that, it is important to note that the new rule does not affect current Medical Cannabis Card holders. It doesn't change the ninety-day renewal requirement for anyone whose initial card expires prior to April. With that said, let us get into a more detailed explanation.
Utah law dictates that Medical Cannabis Cards are not open-ended. You cannot get a card that allows you to use Medical Cannabis for the rest of your life without seeing your Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) for periodic renewal. And for the record, that's the way it should be. Medicine should always be administered under the supervision of a medical provider.
Prior to the new rule's establishment, a patient's first card was only good for ninety days. It had to be renewed by completing an online form and visiting a second time with a QMP. Fortunately, the renewal term itself was six months.
Under the new rule, a ninety-day renewal has been eliminated. All new patients obtaining their Medical Cannabis Cards for the first time will be issued cards that are good for six months. Prior to expiration, they will still need to visit with their QMPs in order to obtain another six-month card.
Understand that the new card renewal rules only affect a patient's initial Medical Cannabis Card. All the other rules remain intact. That includes the rule governing one-year renewals. They are still possible, but three conditions must apply and be verified by a QMP:
A QMP must certify all three on the renewal application in order to recommend a one-year renewal. Then, as always, it is up to the state to decide whether to renew the patient's card.
Everything else about the state's Medical Cannabis Card program remains the same. To apply for your initial card, you have to use the Electronic Verification System (EVS) accessed by way of the state's Medical Cannabis website. You cannot apply for a card with paper documents. You cannot visit a state office and apply in person.
Next, you cannot obtain a legal card without first visiting with a QMP. The state is currently developing a program to allow medical professionals to recommend Medical Cannabis for up to fifteen patients without becoming QMPs, but that program is not yet in place. So for now, the QMP requirement remains hard and fast.
You will also need to visit with a QMP to have your card renewed. It may not be necessary for an in-person visit; online visits are appropriate in some cases. Either way, your QMP will have to recommend renewal after evaluating your current health.
In terms of extending initial cards from ninety days to six months, regulators have done the right thing. The change represents a good move that will streamline the system, increase efficiency, and allow interested QMPs to take on more patients. It also eliminates some of the unnecessary administrative work created by the old ninety-day term. Well done, Utah regulators.