Utah’s medical cannabis law allows patients to visit with either a QMP or LMP to obtain or renew their medical cannabis cards. Those of us in the industry speak of both QMPs and LMPs indiscriminately. Sometimes we forget that new cannabis users do not know the difference. How about you?
‘QMP’ stands for ‘qualified medical provider’; ‘LMP’ is an acronym for ‘limited medical provider’. Both types of medical providers can recommend medical cannabis to patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions. Both types of providers can be doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or orthopedists with prescribing authority in Utah.
Those are all the similarities. What are the differences? There are three:
1. Medical Cannabis Education
QMPs need to undergo a certain amount of continuing education to be certified. The education is specific to medical cannabis. Educational requirements are by no means stringent, but they are necessary. QMPs must prove they have received the training to get their state licenses.
LMPs do not undergo any such training. They are not required to. This doesn’t mean that they know nothing about medical cannabis or the human endocannabinoid system. It simply means that they aren’t required to prove they have formal training to recommend cannabis.
2. State Licensing
The second difference between QMPs and LMPs relates to state licensing. In the simplest possible terms, QMPs are licensed to recommend cannabis while LMPs are not. Understand that licensing does not make a medical provider any more qualified. Rather, licensing is an administrative issue in Utah.
Back when the state first implemented the medical cannabis program, there was no such thing as an LMP. Any doctor wanting to recommend a medical cannabis had to be licensed. The idea was to use licensing as a way to prevent medical providers from establishing cannabis card mills that would churn out recommendations indiscriminately.
It soon became apparent that there were not enough QMPs to meet the demand. Furthermore, there weren’t enough medical providers willing to become QMPs. Lawmakers approved the LMP program to make up for the shortfall.
3. The Number of Recommendations Allowed
The third and final difference between QMPs and LMPs is the number of recommendations each type of medical provider is allowed. LMPs are allowed to recommend cannabis to up to 15 patients at any one time. Once they reach that limit, they cannot assist any more patients. Should one or two drop out of the medical cannabis program or choose to see another medical provider, those slots open up again for new patients.
Originally, QMPs were allowed to recommend cannabis to up to 600 patients. Lawmakers changed that during the 2023 legislative session. Under the new rules, QMP can now recommend cannabis to a total number of patients equal to 1.5% of current active medical cannabis card holders.
Let us arbitrarily assume 70,000 active users. At a rate of 1.5%, a QMP could recommend cannabis up to 1050 patients during the current calendar year. The limit would be recalculated at the start of the new calendar year.
You Have Plenty of Options
Thanks to changes in state law, you now have plenty of options in terms of visiting with a medical provider to get your first card or renew an existing card. Just remember that you will need a valid card to purchase medical cannabis products from our Brigham City and Salt Lake City medical cannabis pharmacies.
You can check the state’s medical cannabis website for a list of QMPs in Utah. If you can’t find one near you, you can always ask your GP to act as your LMP.