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Published September 4, 2020

We have had legal Medical Marijuana in Utah for about six months now. In that time, we’ve definitely had some ups and downs within the program. It’s clear now that finding a QMP with a good customer service team behind them is important. Any Medical Cannabis patient can tell you that navigating the state website and legal requirements can be a challenging feat. With multiple dispensaries opening in late summer and early fall, especially in Utah County, it’s absolutely necessary to find a QMP completely dedicated to getting you your card. Writing you a letter and calling it good just isn’t enough.

Once you have seen a QMP and received a letter of recommendation to use Medical Cannabis,  you’re able to register that letter with one pharmacy. Many Utah Medical Cannabis patients still only have a letter and want to get their card. I have written an article to help educate Medical Cannabis patients about getting their letter converted to a card to gain access to more pharmacies in Utah (we have SIX as of today!) and stay current in the program. (Edit: Letters are no longer a part of the Utah Medical Cannabis program.)

Now, let’s say you have your Medical Cannabis Card and want to know the process over the next few years. Patients ask us about this a lot, especially when people come to find that their initial card only stays active for 90 days. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s really only valid for 90 days! Settle in, and let’s navigate the first two years together.

Your First 90 Days as a Medical Cannabis Patient

Utah law requires that you visit with your QMP, or their nursing staff, during the first two months of your treatment. This is to verify dosing, delivery, and the effect Medical Cannabis use has on your condition. This is best practice. Nobody starts new cholesterol medication without keeping their provider in the loop on the experience and effectiveness of the medication. Medical Marijuana is no different. Your provider needs to follow your treatment plan closely for best results.

Medical Cannabis Patient and Provider Telemedicine AppointmentIn our partner clinic, Utah Therapeutic Health Center, we add no additional charge for this 90-day renewal. We strongly believe that the cost of the initial visit should cover the 90-day renewal. It’s already costly for Medical Cannabis patients to get a Medical Cannabis Card in Utah. There’s no reason to pay that much in the first three months. In fact, if your QMP charged you extra for your 90-day renewal, please leave a comment below to let us know!

Just before your initial Medical Cannabis Card expires, our Patient Experience team reaches out to you by phone or telemedicine. We double check the accuracy of the health information in your file, answer questions, request dosing changes from your provider on your behalf, and walk you through the renewal process on the EVS website.

The card you get after this first renewal is valid for six months. So, you’d think that now you don’t need to see your provider again for another six months, right? Wrong. State law, Medical Cannabis best practice, and national guidelines require medical providers to physically see their Medical Cannabis patients twice a year, or every six months. This usually will not match up with their card expiration date. Why the discrepancy? I wish we knew. Call it growing pains.

After Six Months in the Medical Cannabis Program

About six or seven months from the date of your initial consultation, you’ll need to schedule a follow-up visit with your provider. While you must meet face-to-face with your provider for your initial visit, you can do your follow-up with a telemedicine visit if your provider offers that. Providers usually do charge for this six-month visit, just like going in for a check-up with your family doctor.

Female QMP Conducting an Appointment with Female Medical Cannabis PatientDuring your follow-up visit, we’ll discuss new medications and health history and check up on your therapy. We’ll answer any question you have and go over the products you have tried to ensure you’re using them appropriately. We also use these visits to educate patients on Utah law, changes to the program, and changes to EVS.

If you have already seen a QMP when your expiration date nears, this can be done by phone and without additional fees. If the expiration date coincides with the six-month visit, all of these things can be done together. After this update, the card will be valid for another six months. This brings the total time to about one year from the initial evaluation and recommendation.

One Year as a Medical Cannabis Patient in Utah

About 12 months after the first time you see your QMP, you’ll need to see them again by telemedicine or in person. At the one year visit, your pathway can change depending on how your Medical Cannabis treatment has progressed. After the first year of Medical Cannabis treatment, you’re allowed to go one year between visits with your provider’s approval. It is completely up to your QMP how often you are seen after the first year. In my opinion, patients should be seen at an interval of six months. That being said, from a financial and safety standpoint, many patients of our clinic will likely be approved to go one year between visits.

Say that your QMP offers you a one-year timeline. Once renewed, your profile will reflect this and your Medical Cannabis Card won’t expire for a full year. Dosing and delivery changes will need QMP approval, and that may require another visit. No dosing or delivery changes for you? Then simply enjoy 365 days of program participation! If nothing major changes and your Medical Cannabis treatment has been stable up to this point, then you will carry on as usual, with your dosage limit renewing every 28 days until you see your provider the following year.

Whether or not your provider recommends six-month or one-year follow-up visits depends on many factors, like dosing, medical history, medications, and best practice. Yes, certain patients and conditions require more frequent visits. We know that it can get expensive to see your provider every six months without insurance coverage, but if your health and safety depend on it, isn’t that worth it?

Please comment below with any questions you have about the first two years of the Utah Medical Cannabis program.

 

 

Tim Pickett Utah Qualified Medical Marijuana Provider

 

By Tim Pickett
Qualified Medical Provider and Founder of utahmarijuana.org

 

7 responses to “Two Years as a Medical Cannabis Patient”

    • That’s true! You’ll find that most of the clinics out there will charge something for the 90-day renewal, actually. At Utah Therapeutic Health Center, utahmarijuana.org’s clinic, we made the decision not to charge our patients again so soon, as being in the Medical Cannabis program can be expensive enough as it is. Every UTTHC patient has their card renewed at 90 days totally free of charge. You can find out more information about our clinic here. Stay safe out there!

    • That’s true! You’ll find that most of the clinics out there will charge something for the 90-day renewal, actually. At Utah Therapeutic Health Center, utahmarijuana.org’s clinic, we made the decision not to charge our patients again so soon, as being in the Medical Cannabis program can be expensive enough as it is. Every UTTHC patient has their card renewed at 90 days totally free of charge. You can find out more information about our clinic here. Stay safe out there!

    • Did you end up getting your card through them? I did recently, just curious to hear someone else’s thoughts about it!

    • Correct, yes. $250 is the cost of the first visit and every visit after that will be $190. We’ll see you about every 6 months.

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