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Medical marijuana is plant-based medicine at its most sophisticated. It is not like a typical prescription medication that is given to reverse a particular symptom or illness.

How Do I Get a Medical Marijuana Card?

If you are curious about becoming a patient and being evaluated for a medical marijuana card, read this post. There are a few key details you should consider:

Choose a Medical Marijuana Doctor or PA That Specializes

Does your provider use “best practice” guidelines and provide education on delivery methods (oral, vape, flower, oils) and dosing (how much and how often)? Or are they going to give you a recommendation and let you figure it out on your own?

If they don’t provide dosing then you are required to visit with a pharmacist or another doctor to establish dosing guidelines per Utah law. This might not be a big issue for seasoned users, but anyone who wants more information on the science behind the medicine and ratios of CBD to THC, may want to confirm with their provider prior to the visit.You deserve to have safe and informative access to medical marijuana. We sincerely believe this and will be happy to guide you.

Schedule an Appointment

How Much is the Cost of the Visit?

Most visits will require $250-$300 cash or card charge. No insurance covers a patient evaluation for medical marijuana as the primary reason for the visit. This is covered more here. New York State is starting to force insurance companies to pay for the visit, but this has not happened in Utah yet, or in any other state.

There are some providers who specialize in medical marijuana who are available for referrals. These clinics are primarily cash-based however and don’t accept insurance.Patients who have a long-standing relationship with an existing medical provider who accepts their insurance should contact their existing provider to ask whether or not that recommendation could be billed under the insurance carrier. Each provider will be doing this differently until more is known.

Research indicates that most medical provider insurance companies will not cover a visit in which medical cannabis is the primary reason for the visit. If medical cannabis is discussed as a small portion of a greater visit regarding some other complaint, it may be paid through the insurance. Providers do risk denial of that claim and possibly being dropped from that insurance carrier. Therefore, these providers need to be very careful and proactive in finding out the details of their own insurance billing practices.

Patients can use a Visa, MasterCard, and in some cases the HSA funds to pay for the medical evaluation and recommendation. Marijuana will not be available for purchase with any credit cards in the dispensaries.

How and When Can I Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card?

To obtain a card, starting in March, a medical provider who is qualified to write recommendations, such as a PA, NP or physician, will input their patient’s information into the state database and the patient will then go to the Utah Department of Health website and apply for the card.At this point in time, a $15 charge is estimated for the cost of the actual card.

It will take up to two weeks for the patient to receive their card. Therefore, if you are already a patient with a recommendation and apply for your card on March 1st, you will not have access to purchase any medical cannabis in Utah until at least March 15th, 2020. Note that Utah medical marijuana cards expire after six months.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Utah?

Do you have a recommendation for medical marijuana from a qualified medical provider in Utah? Then you can use marijuana legally in Utah. Yes, Prop 2 was passed by the voters in Utah in 2016 and the government passed H.B. 3001 the Utah Medical Cannabis Act shortly thereafter. You need to have qualifying medical conditions and must have the marijuana in an appropriate form and quantity.

Dispensaries in Utah

Most of the medical marijuana pharmacy sites chosen by the state health department will be found in metro Salt Lake City and northern Utah. However, there will be two located in southern Utah and one in rural eastern Utah.

8 of the pharmacies have been permitted to open March 1, 2020. The remaining 6 will open July 1, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Proposition 2?

Proposition 2 was organized by the Utah Patient Coalition and passed by ballot initiative in November 2016. This was the bill that legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients in Utah. There was opposition against Prop. 2 that was powerful and in order to save the bill, supporters worked toward a compromise that was passed shortly after. Many believe that Prop 2 passed only because the opposition never launched their massive campaign against it.

The compromise bill is the Medical Cannabis Act. It describes the way all marijuana is to be grown, processed and sold in Utah. It also describes the qualifications for people who want to use it, the way they go about getting a medical card recommendation from a doctor/PA/APRN. registration for the card, and buying marijuana at stores (called dispensaries or cannabis pharmacies). The law also describes the process doctors/PAs/APRNs must go through if they want to recommend marijuana to patients.

When you think about it, setting up a multimillion-dollar industry to offer medical-grade products from plants in less than three years is quite a feat. My hat is off to the UDOH for their hard work so far.

What Are the Benefits of Medical Marijuana?

I spoke to a cancer patient today who does not like to take nausea medication because it makes him constipated. He takes his chemo pills at night and by midnight, most nights, he is puking in the bathroom. He works during the day so he avoids daytime chemo due to nausea. Needless to say, this guy needs help. He’s not sleeping, he’s losing weight, and he is still trying to work.

If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, think of a time you’ve avoided medication because of the side effects. Even standard prescription strength nausea medication has SOME negative side effects and can cause harm. Zofran, for example, causes a heart rhythm problem in some patients and constipation in a lot of patients. Many people avoid Benadryl for allergies because it makes them sleepy. Good doctors & PAs are constantly calculating whether the side effects will cause more harm than good before deciding what to recommend.

How Can Cannabis Help?

For example, full-spectrum cannabis that includes THC can be a very effective and safe treatment for persistent nausea. This is not the same as the CBD you can buy locally. This is the type you will need to get a medical card for and go to the dispensary to buy. It’s the real deal and if you take too much you will get high, no doubt. Finding a doctor, PA, or NP to recommend medical marijuana is tough, there are not many in Utah yet.

“Start low and go slow” is the mantra for newbies. Cannabis is highly individual, some patients will take 2.5 mg of THC and others 50mg. Many doctors think this range makes cannabis “not dosable,” but I disagree. There are plenty of medications we use in the medical setting that is titrated based on patient response and that have large ranges.

Tolerance tends to build quickly at low doses. Patients report reduced negative side effects while maintaining symptom relief during the initial 2 weeks.

In fact, I have developed a specific dosing protocol that allows patients to take control of their dosing individually and find the right dose for them, usually within 3-4 days. This is done by slowly titrating the dose over time, always using CBD to buffer the THC “high.” I also work with one of the licensed grower/producers in Utah to manufacture a special low dose capsule for patients that will be available at limited Utah dispensaries in March.

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