Just in case you haven’t heard the news yet, medical cannabis card renewals in Utah have been extended to one year effective May 3, 2023. What a big change that is! We went from 90 days to six months, and now we are at one-year medical cannabis card renewals. The only place to go from here is permanent cards for certain patients whose conditions are expected to be lifelong. But that is a different topic for another post.
In this post, we want to discuss why we think one-year cannabis card renewals are a good idea. State officials have been working hard to improve Utah’s medical cannabis program since it was first launched a few years ago. Extending renewals could be right up there with adding acute pain to the qualifying conditions list, in terms of helpfulness. Here’s why we think it was a good move:
1. Lower Patient Costs
Neither a patient’s initial card nor renewals are free. Patients need to pay for visits with their medical providers along with application fees. That means every renewal costs more money. We took a quick look on the state’s Medical Cannabis Visit Cost website and learned that the average cost of an initial visit in Utah is $200. The average renewal visit costs $128.
Under the six-month renewal, a patient would spend $328 in one year to get the initial card and a single renewal. Now that cost is just $200 for the first year and then $128 annually. Patients are saving 30% in their first year and almost 50% thereafter.
2. Increased Patient Convenience
In addition to saving money, patients are also the beneficiaries of greater convenience. Let’s face it, taking time out of a busy schedule to visit a medical provider is not the easiest thing to do. It is also not the most convenient. By extending renewals to one year, regulators have ensured that patients need to see their medical providers less frequently. That’s a good thing.
Fewer doctor visits mean less time spent commuting. It means less time spent in waiting rooms when a patient could be at work, home with the kids, etc. When you combine one-year renewals with virtual visits, the process is even more convenient.
3. Less Work for Medical Providers
Extending medical cannabis card renewals to one year benefits medical providers by reducing some of their workload. For clinics that specialize in medical cannabis cards and treating qualifying conditions with cannabis, less work might not be so good. But for practices that do not specialize in medical cannabis or cannabis patients, requiring fewer visits is a good thing.
Medical providers already face heavy workloads. They are already seeing as many patients as they can handle in a given day. If we can give them a break by reducing their loads a bit, we should. One-year renewals do just that.
4. EVS System Improvements
Medical cannabis cards in Utah are managed through the state’s electronic verification system (EVS). Even though that system is computerized, it still needs to deal with a tremendous amount of data that only grows over time. Less stress is put on the system by reducing the amount of data it has to process and store.
One-year cannabis card renewals reduce the data load. Whenever you do that, you reduce the likelihood of errors and anomalies. You reduce the performance and storage load on servers. Over the course of many years, this makes a substantial difference in system performance.
There’s not a whole lot of negative related to one-year medical cannabis card renewals. Regulators did right by extending the renewal period. So from us to them, thank you.