As things currently stand under Utah law, patients hoping to purchase medical cannabis can only do so through a licensed cannabis pharmacy and with possession of a valid medical cannabis card. To get a card, patients must first visit with a qualified medical professional (QMP) and submit an electronic application. That will soon change, thanks to Utah’s new limited medical provider (LMP) program.
You may have heard of the LMP program. In theory, the program already exists in Utah after the legislature approved changes to the law during the 2021 legislative session. But the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wasn’t able to meet an October 2021 deadline to get it up and running. Utah’s new LMP program will be available in Utah beginning January 19th, 2022.
Becoming a Limited Medical Provider
The beauty of the limited medical provider program is that no special training or certification is required. Any physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or specialist already licensed to prescribe narcotics will be allowed to recommend medical cannabis to up to fifteen patients.
Under the current system, LMPs do not exist. Only QMPs can recommend medical cannabis after consulting with patients and verifying that they suffer from a qualifying condition. QMPs must undergo training and certification. The advantage of being a QMP is a higher patient load. A QMP can recommend medical cannabis up to 275 patients. They are allowed up to six hundred patients if they meet an extra set of requirements and have permission from the UDOH.
Unfortunately, there are not enough QMPs to meet demand in Utah. According to Fox 13, there are only 810 QMPs in the state. They are trying to meet the needs of more than 40,000 patients. As more patients get their cards, the need for medical providers will only increase. Legislators in favor of the LMP program say that it will add another 16,000 providers to the existing QMPs.
Nothing Else Will Change
Under the planned LMP expansion, little will change for patients other than having access to a longer pool of providers. Patients will still have to visit an LMP or QMP after beginning the electronic application process. The provider will still have to determine that the patient suffers from a qualifying condition AND that the condition is best treated through medical cannabis.
With a provider’s recommendation, the patient can complete the application process and submit the appropriate fee. The UDOH, upon approval of the application, emails the patient their card. At that point, the patient can then visit a medical cannabis dispensary to obtain their medication.
When you first visit Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City or Brigham City, we will take the information from your medical cannabis card and enter it into the electronic verification system (EVS) as required by law. Your initial card will be good for ninety days. You will have to renew it for six months following that, and then another six months before you could be eligible for a one-year renewal.
A Much-Needed Change
We count ourselves among those happy that the state is looking to expand our medical cannabis program through the LMP provision. After your LMP visit you will deliver the required LMP form to Beehive Farmacy or your LMP may send it electronically. Your Beehive Farmacy pharmacist will take care of getting your certification entered into EVS.
When the LMP program is up and running, patients across Utah should have an easier time getting and renewing their medical cannabis cards. The LMP program promises to be a tremendous help, especially to patients living in rural portions of the state.