You may have heard that legislative changes enacted earlier in 2021 now make it possible to get a one-year renewal on medical cannabis cards. What you might not know is that one-year renewals are not the norm. Being able to extend your card for that long is subject to certain conditions. Your qualified medical provider (QMP) should be familiar with them.
All of that notwithstanding, remember that you cannot legally buy medical marijuana in Salt Lake City, Brigham City, or elsewhere without a valid card. Letters of recommendation are no longer accepted by the Utah Department of Health.
How to Get a Card
Before we go ahead and explain card renewal, we should first explain how to get your initial card. If you already possess a medical cannabis card, please bear with us while we explain this process to new patients.
To be eligible for a card, you must be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions on the state’s official list. Some of those conditions include chronic pain, seizure disorders, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you believe you suffer from a qualifying condition, or you have already been diagnosed as such, your first step in getting a medical cannabis card is to log on to the state website and submit your application through the electronic verification system (EVS).
Next, you make an appointment with a QMP. That individual will evaluate your condition and determine whether medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment. Assuming that this is the case, the QMP submits their part of the application through the EVS website. You follow up by completing your application and paying the necessary fee. You will receive your medical cannabis card via email.
Regular Card Renewal
A lot of new medical marijuana patients are surprised to learn that their cards are not permanent. This is by design. Nearly all prescriptions can only be renewed after consulting with a prescribing medical professional. This is as true of antibiotics as it is pain medications. Medical cannabis is no exception.
A patient’s initial medical cannabis card is only good for 90 days. It can be renewed for six months after a follow-up visit in which the QMP is satisfied that the medicine is doing its job. The patient’s second renewal will also be for six months. After that, the QMP and patient can discuss a one-year renewal.
Conditions for One-Year Renewal
The law allows the QMP to recommend one-year renewal under a limited set of circumstances. First and foremost, the patient in question must have already been using medical marijuana for at least one year. In addition, the QMP must confirm that:
- the patient’s condition has been stabilized by medical cannabis; and
- continuing to treat with medical cannabis is appropriate.
Do the math and you will realize that you have to be using your medicine for fifteen months before your QMP can recommend a one-year renewal. During that time, your QMP needs to see that cannabis is helping your condition and that you are medically stable. If all three requirements are met, you will be eligible for a one-year renewal next time your card needs to be renewed.
Opening the door to one-year renewals was an important step by the state legislature. Their decision to change the law indicates they understand that medical cannabis will be a prophylactic solution for many of the patients who successfully obtain medical cannabis cards. It shows a willingness to work with the medical community to make sure patients get the medicines they need. For that, they should be commended.