A patient with a qualifying condition can only legally possess marijuana in Utah if they have a state medical cannabis card. That card requires a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional.
Despite some complaints about prices and access, many view Utah’s program as a model other conservative states could follow.
What is a Medical Cannabis Card?
According to Utah law, patients with a medical marijuana card can possess and use cannabis to treat their qualifying conditions. This includes flowers, oils, edibles, and vape products. Having a card also gives patients legal protection when using the drug in public or at work.
Currently, there are 23,089 medical marijuana cards in Utah. However, the number is still significantly smaller than in states like Colorado, which has a recreational marijuana program and more than 300 dispensaries. The state is working to improve the Utah medical cannabis program by introducing more dispensaries and reducing wait times for a patient’s registration.
To obtain a card, a patient must receive a recommendation from a healthcare provider that meets the state’s requirements. The healthcare provider must have an active license to practice medicine in Utah, pass a criminal background check, and complete online training on medical cannabis. In addition, the doctor must have a patient population below 300, and they can’t make medical marijuana their primary business.
The recommendation must then be submitted to the state Department of Health. Once approved, the patient will be issued a patient registration card, which can be used at a medical cannabis dispensary or pharmacy. Only fourteen pharmacies have been approved, but they can only sell a limited amount of medication based on the patient’s allotted dosage.
How do I get a Medical Cannabis Card?
To get a medical marijuana card in Utah, you must first make an appointment with a qualified medical provider (QMP) registered with the state. QMPs can be physicians, osteopaths, chiropractors, or nurse practitioners and will evaluate your medical history to determine if you qualify for cannabis treatment.
Once your QMP has approved you for the program, they will submit your recommendation through the state’s online portal. Once the state has reviewed your application, you will receive a medical marijuana patient or guardian card.
You can also apply for a caregiver card, which allows you to purchase medical marijuana on behalf of someone else. If you add a caregiver to your card, the patient and caregiver must meet with a QMP. Caregivers must undergo a background check and pay an additional fee for their card on top of the patient’s cost.
After your initial 90-day card expires, you must re-certify with your doctor yearly. Veriheal will contact you when your certification is up for renewal so you can schedule a consultation with a qualified physician near you. If you book a combo consultation with a friend, you get $10 off your appointment!
What are the Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Cannabis Card?
A medical cannabis card allows Utah residents with qualifying conditions to access and purchase marijuana from a dispensary or pharmacy. The state’s medical cannabis law provides more than a dozen diseases that qualify for a patient to receive a cannabis prescription, and the state’s Compassionate Use Board can approve additional conditions on a case-by-case basis.
Patients can obtain a medical cannabis card by registering online with the EVS, having a physician provide a written recommendation for marijuana treatment, and passing a criminal background check. Caregivers and guardians must also register with the system and have their registrations reviewed by a physician. Those who have their applications approved by the EVS will be issued cards that automatically renew every 90 days, with an initial fee of $5 and a renewal charge of $15 each.
Oborn said more people have registered to be medical cannabis patients in Utah County than Salt Lake County, but that doesn’t necessarily mean more people are using marijuana there. Instead, he said that more people in Utah County may have been able to buy marijuana legally since the first marijuana pharmacy opened in the county. It could be so because many people in the region were able to get their initial cards at the beginning of the program, and some continue to rely on those letters until 2021 when they won’t work anymore.
How do I Apply for a Medical Cannabis Card?
There are several steps involved in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Utah. First, you must meet with a qualified medical provider (QMP) to evaluate your condition. Veriheal has partnered with many QMPs and can connect you to one.
Then, you must register with the state using the Electronic Verification System (EVS) portal. Then the state will review your application and either approve or deny it. This process can take up to 90 days or less from your evaluation date. You will receive your card via email once approved.
Once you have your card, you can purchase medical marijuana at any licensed dispensary. However, you must have a valid photo ID to buy cannabis. Additionally, you may only possess up to 3.95 ounces of cannabis at a time, and it’s illegal to smoke marijuana in public or on private property unless it’s in an emergency.
Finally, you must re-certify your card annually by visiting a QMP. You can do this in person or online. TheyVeriheal will contact you when your recommendation is coming up for renewal.
Currently, the top qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Utah include chronic pain, nausea, and cancer. Those who don’t qualify may petition the Compassionate Use Board for a card on a case-by-case basis.