Utah’s Limited Medical Provider (LMP) program was launched in earnest recently. The program is meant to expand access to Medical Cannabis by allowing more types of healthcare providers to write recommendations for the drug. But, when possible, we urge LMPs to advise patients to visit a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) to obtain a Medical Cannabis Card.
The Medical Cannabis Card represents a patient’s opportunity to access medicines that can only be obtained by way of a Medical Cannabis pharmacy. The card also represents a medical provider’s recommendation that cannabis be utilized as a treatment. We believe that the QMP is the most qualified medical provider to offer that recommendation.
Prior to launching the LMP program, Utah’s Medical Cannabis patients could only obtain their cards after visiting with a QMP. Now they can visit with either a QMP or LMP. What is the difference?
A QMP is a medical provider licensed by the state of Utah with prescribing authority and state certification to recommend Medical Cannabis to up to 275 patients. If a QMP is “certified by the appropriate American medical board”, in certain areas of specialty, up to six hundred recommendations can be made.
An LMP is also a state-licensed medical provider with prescribing authority in Utah. The LMP can be a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or podiatrist. LMPs can recommend Medical Cannabis to up to 15 adult patients (ages 21 and up) at any one time.
The big difference between the two types of providers is training. Unlike QMPs, LMPs are not required to receive any additional training in the human endocannabinoid system or cannabis as a medicine. In order to become a QMP, a medical provider must complete an approved training course.
Although LMPs aren’t required to undergo additional Medical Cannabis training, the state does provide some training resources for them. See the “Limited Medical Provider Resources” section on this page for details.
To us, the main difference between the LMP and the QMP is education. In addition to the state-mandated training program, QMPs often have more education in Medical Marijuana and its use as a medicine. They tend to be more educated in how Medical Cannabis can be used as an effective treatment for conditions like chronic pain, PTSD, seizure disorders, etc.
This really is the main reason we urge LMPs to advise their patients to see a QMP to obtain a Medical Cannabis card. There is still a lot that medical science does not know about cannabis as a medicine. As such, standard medical training doesn’t necessarily equip a medical provider to truly understand the benefits of using cannabis as a medicine.
In the best interests of patients, their medical providers should have a good understanding of Medical Cannabis. They should be up to date on the latest research. They should understand things like Medical Cannabis delivery methods and dosage. Medical providers should have a basic grasp of things like layering and the differences between CBD and THC.
The state legislature did the right thing by approving the LMP program. The program us especially important in rural parts of the state, where patients may not have reasonable access to a QMP. In such cases, being able to visit with an LMP to obtain a Medical Cannabis Card is a better option than continuing to go without what could prove to be a life-changing medicine.
Having said that, we do think it is best for patients to visit with a QMP when possible and practical. A QMP has gone beyond standard medical training to learn about Medical Cannabis and its applications. In that sense, it would be fair to think of recommending Medical Cannabis as somewhat of a specialty. QMPs are the specialists in this case.