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Get comfortable about what to expect at a medical marijuana evaluation

It has been somewhat confusing for patients in Utah who would like to discuss medical marijuana with a doctor, PA, or NP because the Utah medical cannabis card system is not up and running, dispensaries are not open yet, but medical cannabis is already legal. And then there is this weird feeling you get when you think about talking (out loud) about a drug that you grew up thinking was harmful, illegal, addictive, and terrible.

If you are considering becoming a medical marijuana patient, maybe you would like to know the process.

First, take a look at the list of qualifying conditions. You can also call our office or go to my previous article and look over the qualifying conditions. Anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraines, and glaucoma are NOT qualifying conditions in Utah, even though they can be treated in other states.

Pain greater than 2 weeks, not controlled with standard treatment – Persistent Nausea – Alzheimer’s – Crohn’s disease – Ulcerative Colitis -Cancer – ALS -Cachexia (weakness &/or weight loss due to illness) – HIV or AIDS – Epilepsy – Seizures – Persistent muscle spasms – Multiple Sclerosis – PTSD – Terminal Illness – Rare Condition or Condition you feel should be evaluated by the Utah Compassionate Use Board

Pain is the Most Common Qualifier

The vast majority of patients will use pain as a complaint. This has been the case in all other states medical marijuana is legal. Utah defines pain qualification as the following.

Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical provider’s opinion, despite treatment attempts using: conventional medications other than opioids or opiates: or physical interventions.

For example, a patient has a metal plate in their arm after surgery three years ago and the metal plate causes long term pain. Ibuprofen and Tylenol do not work well and the patient did physical therapy after the surgery but is still left with some ongoing pain. This pain obviously is longer than two weeks and conventional medications are not effective. In my opinion, This patient would qualify for a medical cannabis card.

I have discussions with orthopedic surgeons who agree that any of their knee replacement or hip replacement patients would qualify even before surgery because their pain is greater than two weeks and because it will require surgery to fix. Even if ibuprofen and Tylenol help the pain, the fact that they need surgery proves that “conventional” medical treatment is not effective for their condition and “physical interventions” did not work.

It gets trickier when the patient has a toothache for three weeks, takes Norco, which helps, but Tylenol does not. Technically this will qualify, but many providers will still not recommend in this case.

Ok, one final example.

This patient has painful migraine headaches, they come on every two-three weeks, last about a day and a half, but the medication they are prescribed does not really help, and this drug is the second one they have tried. The condition has been bothersome for over a year. Do Migraines qualify? No, they do not. But do they qualify for the PAIN associated with the Migraines? Yes.

Diagnostic Criteria for “Pain Disorder” (DSM Code — 307.80)

  1. Pain in one or more anatomical sites is the predominant focus of the clinical presentation and is of sufficient severity to warrant clinical attention.
  2. The pain causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  3. Psychological factors are judged to have an important role in the onset, severity, exacerbation, or maintenance of the pain.
  4. The symptom or deficit is not intentionally produced or feigned.
  5. The pain is not better accounted for by a mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorder.

Translation: The pain is bad and affects life enough that the patient is asking for help from a PA, NP, or doctor.

The Migraine patient has a Pain Disorder (as defined above) because she has pain in her head (anatomical site), she is seeking help (clinical attention), it causes her to miss work or otherwise affects her life, and the pain is not faked (feigned).

There seem to be three options for this patient:

  1. Find a provider who is willing to recommend cannabis for her based on the above argument.
  2. Not get a recommendation for cannabis.
  3. Find a provider who is willing to write a letter to the Utah Compassionate Use Board to request a card based on scientific studies and the patient’s condition.

If you still don’t know that you would qualify or you are just plain scared about it, please please call me at 801-851-5554 and let’s talk about it. I grew up in Utah and I think I know the feeling. Also, contact the clinic and we will send you a secure form for health questions. Please do not send health information in an email.

I know I qualify, now what?

Now you can find a provider (hopefully me), and make an appointment. Try either going online to my calendar or by calling 801-851-5554.

Once you schedule you will instantly get an emailed link to the secure intake form, consent, and be able to confirm the appointment with your deposit. The total cost of the evaluation and recommendation is $250 paid by credit or debit card at your visit. There is no deposit.

On the Day of Your Visit

Come prepared to talk about marijuana, cannabis, weed, pot, ganja, hashish, tincture, oil, creams, joints, bongs, dabs, wax, resin, and anything else you want to talk about. Yes, we are comfortable with the whole process and we want you to be too. Destigmatizing medical cannabis for you is part of this process.

Things we might ask about your condition.

  • When did this condition start?
  • How long have you been bothered by this? Does the pain come and go, or is it constant?
  • Describe the pain, does it burn, ache, throb, or nag?
  • Do you have other symptoms related to the pain? Does it cause nausea, keep you awake, or make you anxious?
  • How does this affect your daily routine?
  • Have you had any imaging, surgery or other testing?
  • What have you tried for treatment? Taken medications, physical therapy, seen doctors?

You should also bring any medical records if we requested to confirm your diagnosis for the qualifying condition.

If you qualify you will leave with the letter

If you qualify and we decide together that you would like to try medical cannabis for your condition, you will get a letter from me THE SAME DAY that will allow you to legally possess and use cannabis in Utah.

After March 1st, Utah requires a 30-day follow up visit after the initial recommendation. This is included with our initial cost, but may not be with other doctors. Check with your doctor before you go!

Medical cannabis cards in Utah expire after six months. We will send you a reminder one month before it expires to remind you to confirm a renewal visit. Many times the renewal will be offered via telemedicine (zoom video chat).

While you are in ultimate control of what you use and how you use it, we also include education and expertise with delivery methods (oral, inhaled, cooked, creams, tinctures) and dosing help. In my opinion, you should be wary of those that are not willing (or able) to discuss this with you. Don’t you think your medical provider should know a lot about what they are recommending?

More information and education on Utah Medical Marijuana

You can always get more information at utahmarijuana.org and join the email list to get education about cannabis in your email.

Now you know a little more of what to expect with a Utah medical marijuana card evaluation and hopefully, this made you feel a little more comfortable with the process. Please comment below if you have questions or need clarification on anything!

Tim Pickett, PA-C, qualified medical provider for Utahmarijuana.clinc

45 responses to “Utah Medical Marijuana Card, Curious About Being a Patient?”

  1. I have a few injuries that I think I qualify for but I’m not sure I’ve had sever back pain for the last year and a half and I’ve gone to chiropractors and doctors nothing seems to work I also had a bad injury on my knee that hurts almost everyday that happened 3 years ago and finally I got my head crushed in a car nothing too serious happed thankfully but I’ve gotten the worst migraines that hurt terribly ever since that was over a year ago

    • Hey Isaac, thanks for sharing your story with us. It absolutely sounds like you would qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card. If you’d like to discuss further, give us a call at 801.851.5554 or you can schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve.

  2. I suffer from anxiety, and acid reflux. My acid reflux causing me to have nausea and have had this for about a year or more. Anxiety is not qualified, but my anxiety’s and panic attacks causes asthma flares which has caused me to have horrible chest pain for more than two weeks it’s been on going for about a month. I was diagnosed with Costochondritis. I was prescribed a Flovent inhaler, and Ibuprofen, Carafate and omeprazole. However they have not been helping with my nausea more my pain. Do I qualify?

    • Hey Jaymi, you absolutely qualify for Medical Cannabis with the pain and nausea you’re experiencing. Give us a call at 801.851.5554 to schedule an appointment or do so online at utmmj.org/reserve. We’ve got clinics in Millcreek, West Valley, Ogden, Bountiful, and Provo, and we can’t wait to help you feel better!

    • Hello, I’m a flooring installer for roughly 30 yrs , I suffer from back pain , and knee pain , I had scope surgery on one of my knees , helped for a while , but Being on my knees everyday tales a toll on my , I ache every night and struggle to sleep due to my knees hurting , would I qualify for medical marijuana?

      • Hey Travis, sounds to me like you absolutely qualify! Give us a call at 801.851.5554 or schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve and let’s get you feeling better.

    • Hello, I’m a flooring installer for roughly 30 yrs , I suffer from back pain , and knee pain , I had scope surgery on one of my knees , helped for a while , but Being on my knees everyday tales a toll on my , I ache every night and struggle to sleep due to my knees hurting , would I qualify for medical marijuana?

      • Hey Travis, sounds to me like you absolutely qualify! Give us a call at 801.851.5554 or schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve and let’s get you feeling better.

  3. Hi! I noticed in your article you said migraines and head pain usually aren’t qualified to get a medical card, but i’ve had migraines due to concussions that are almost daily that cause severe nausea and anxiety. Would that qualify? Thank you so much for your time and information!

    • Hey there, great question! While migraines themselves are not a qualifying condition in Utah, you can qualify for cannabis use with the pain and nausea they cause. You definitely can get your card for your migraines in this way. We’d love to help you feel better. Schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve or call us at 801.851.5554.

  4. Ive had back pain since I was about 16 or 17. I know I had some xrays done and was told I have minor scoliosis and that 2 of my lumbar disks are basically fused together.
    Would I qualify for a medical card? And are you able to request my medical history?

    • Hey there! Pain lasting longer than two weeks is a qualifying condition for cannabis in Utah, so you are definitely eligible to get your card. As for your medical history, we suggest gathering those on your own to bring to your appointment. Alternatively, if you are taking any medication currently to help with the pain, documentation of that prescription is valid medical history for our purposes. Even a pill bottle will work. We’d love to help you feel better. For more info on the process and to make an appointment, give us a call at 801.851.5554. You can also schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve. See you soon!

  5. Hey,
    I had a sprained ankle about 2 years ago, I went through physical therapy but it’s still giving me pain when I walk and it occasionally pops which hurts a lot. would I qualify? I also suffer from anxiety and depression that makes me nauseous and unable to sleep.

    • Hey there, Emilio. To me, it definitely sounds like you qualify for Medical Cannabis use. We’d love to help you feel better. Give us a call at 801.851.5554 or schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve. Talk soon!

  6. Hi there!
    I have suffered from anxiety/depression for years & sever post partum. I usually get nausea and can’t sleep because of it. Would this be something I would qualify for? I have tried SSRI’s, ketamine iv treqtments, & still no luck.

    • Hey, Whitney! Thanks for reaching out. While anxiety and depression are not qualifying conditions for cannabis in Utah, nausea is and we can likely get you approved for that condition. Give us a call at 801.851.5554 and we can discuss your options with you. Talk soon!

  7. I have anxiety where it prevents me taking action like leaving my house. For the past several months, i have struggled sleeping and gotten nauseous and even sick from anxiousness and lost several pounds over the past 3 months. Additionally, i have had consistent pain/soreness lingering in the tendons in my fingers, elbow, shoulder, and neck from past rock climbing injuries. I have used marijuana in the past and my anxiety, nausea, and pain improved but i never considered how to obtain it with a medical card until coming to this website because it is kind of a hush/taboo topic here in Utah. Just curious if id qualify, so that i could get relief i know works for me.

    • I’m so glad you found us, Dalton! You definitely qualify for Medical Cannabis use in Utah, in a few different ways. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be approved. In fact, we’d love to help you do it. Our affiliated clinic, Utah Therapeutic Health Center, has over 20 providers qualified to recommend cannabis and four locations in Millcreek, Ogden, West Salt Lake, and Provo. Give us a call at 801.851.5554 to chat more about this with one of our friendly patient experience team, or schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve. See you soon!

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