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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?”

    • Hi Jedidiah, unfortunately, bipolar disorder does not qualify someone for Medical Cannabis use in Utah, however, that’s not to say that you may qualify under a different condition. Give us a call and we can discuss your options. Talk soon!

  1. My name is Kadence and i’ve been suffering from migraines for the last 4ish years. When my migraines hit, I lose my vision and feeling in my legs. The migraines last the entire day, sometimes following to the next day. I was prescribed sumatriptan but it didn’t really do anything for me. I am completely helpless when they hit and can’t do anything. Do I qualify for a medical card?

    • It sounds like you absolutely qualify, Kadence. Go ahead and schedule an appointment online at utmmj.org/reserve or give us a call and we can chat about it further. Talk to you soon!

  2. My name is jonah gunderson and I have acid reflux and diverticulitis I’ve had this since I was 18 and it affects my work when ever I bend or lift I feel like throwing up and it feels like a hot knife is in my belly Iv taken every precaution I can with what I have would I qualify for the medical card

    • Hi Jonah. Thanks for sharing your story with us! It sounds like you absolutely would qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card. If you’d like to discuss the program or process further, give us a call at 801.851.5554 or you’re welcome to schedule online at utmmj.org/reserve.

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