Good News for Patients: QMP Limits Have Risen for 2024

The state’s Q1 newsletter offers an important update that should prove helpful to patients: recommendation limits for QMPs are higher as of April 1. QMPs can now recommend medical cannabis to up to 1,252 patients at a time. Higher limits could potentially help patients struggling to find a QMP for either renewal or applying for a first-time card.

Limits on Recommendations

If you are not familiar with recommendation limits on medical providers, it all stems back to the original legislation enacted to implement Utah’s medical cannabis program. In order to prevent card mills from popping up all over the state, lawmakers initially limited the number of patients doctors could recommend medical cannabis to. That original number was six hundred.

At the time, QMPs were the only ones allowed to recommend medical cannabis. Unfortunately for patients, there simply were not enough to keep up with demand. Moreover, the few QMPs that did exist were concentrated between Salt Lake City and Provo. It was extremely difficult for patients in rural areas to find QMPs within a reasonable distance.

Adding LMPs to the Program

A couple of years in, it became obvious that limiting medical cannabis recommendations to state licensed QMPs wasn’t going to be enough. Lawmakers introduced the limited medical provider (LMP) program to make up the shortfall.

An LMP can be any doctor, advanced practice nurse (nurse practitioner or physician assistant), or orthopedist with prescribing authority in Utah. LMPs do not need continuing education or a state license. However, they can only recommend medical cannabis to a total of fifteen patients at a time.

Still Not Enough

It turns out that creating the LMP program did not solve the access problem entirely. There still were not enough medical providers to keep up with demand. So last year, lawmakers modified the program again, allowing QMPs to recommend cannabis to a total number of patients equal to 1.5% of the number of active card holders in the state.

Basing the recommendation limit on the percentage of active card holders requires that the limits be revised every year. That’s why, beginning April 1, the limit was revised upward to 1,252. Incidentally, we now have more than 83,000 active card holders in Utah.

What It Means to You

So, what does all this mean to you as a medical cannabis patient? It means you now have greater access to Utah QMPs. Because each licensed QMP can take more patients, you have more options when it is time to renew your card. If your primary care physician is either unable or unwilling to act as an LMP, you can visit any QMP taking new patients.

Did you also know that you do not have to use the same medical provider every time you need to renew? Any QMP or LMP can review your case and provide the necessary medical evaluation. As long as you continue to qualify and medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment for your condition, any QMP or LMP can make the recommendation for renewal.

If You Don’t Have a Card

Of course, all of this means very little if you don’t have a medical cannabis card. But don’t sweat it. As long as you have been diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions, getting a card is fairly straightforward. You make an appointment to visit a healthcare provider, complete the online application, and pay a small fee.

Whether you already have a card or you are looking to apply for the first time, it’s good to know that recommendation limits for QMPs have increased. Higher limits work for everyone involved.