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We get pretty jazzed whenever we see the state legislature working to make Utah’s Medical Cannabis program better. We had plenty of reasons to get excited when the health department released its September (2021) update. In that update are mentions of three pending changes sure to benefit Medical Cannabis patients in Utah.

The three changes affect:

  • medical providers recommending cannabis,
  • the length of time attached to a patient’s first renewal, and
  • how the state will make QMP pricing available to the public.

We briefly explain these changes in the following paragraphs. As you read, bear in mind that none of them has been officially implemented yet. The health department still needs to do software updates. If all goes well, we may see them by the end of 2021. But we may have to wait until early 2022.

1. Medical Provider Expansion

Of the three pending changes, the first one excites us the most. The state legislature has amended the Utah Medical Cannabis Act to “enable any MD, DO, APRN, or PA to recommend medical cannabis to up to fifteen qualifying Patients.” That is big, friends. It is really big.

From the start, providers have had to undergo a minimal amount of training and be certified by the state before they can act as Qualifying Medical Providers (QMPs). That will no longer be the case once this change is implemented. Any MD, DO, APRN, or PA with prescribing authority should be able to recommend Medical Cannabis for up to fifteen patients without any additional certification.

How does this change benefit patients? By giving them wider access to QMPs. If enough providers get on board, Utah patients in rural areas may no longer be forced to drive an hour or more to see a QMP.

2. Extending the Renewal Period

The second pending change extends the initial renewal period to six months. As things currently stand, a patient’s very first Medical Cannabis Card is good for just 90 days. A follow-up with a QMP is necessary to renew. After that, the card is active for six months.

Subsequent renewals can be for six months or one year, depending on a QMPs assessment. We will not get into that here, as it is a topic more suitable for another post. At any rate, a longer renewal period benefits patients by reducing the frequency of their QMP visits.

3. Hosting QMP Prices Online

The final change mentioned in the September 2021 update is a plan to begin posting QMP prices online. As things currently stand, that information is not so easy to find if providers do not post prices themselves. But once software updates have gone through, pricing information will be readily available.

According to the September 2021 update, the Department of Health and the Office of the State Auditor will work together to post pricing information. Exactly what it will look like and where it will be found remains to be seen. However, it’s a safe bet that the health department will post it on the state Medical Cannabis website along with all the other resources it offers.

We are thrilled to see that state lawmakers are pressing forward in their efforts to make our Medical Cannabis program better. We hope you are, too. In light of that, please let your representatives know how you feel about their efforts. A little positive reinforcement will go a long way toward encouraging future program improvements.

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