Why Some Medical Cannabis Cards Still Aren’t Good for a Year

Utah lawmakers made some changes to the state’s medical cannabis statute in 2023, including extending the duration of a medical cannabis card to one year. All cards issued from June 1, 2023, onward have a default one-year expiration date. So why is it that some cards are still not good for a year? Why do some of them have six- and three-month expirations?

The simple answer is that qualifying medical providers (QMPs) and limited medical providers (LMPs) have some discretion. If they feel it is in the best interests of a patient to have a shorter card duration, they can indicate as such in the EVS. Their recommendations are generally followed when cards are approved.

The Way Things Used to Be

We are guessing that some patients are not happy about having to renew their cards every year. But the one-year term is a vast improvement over the way things used to be. When Utah’s medical cannabis program was first launched, initial cards were good for just 90 days. Renewals were then good for six months. Only under rare circumstances could a regular medical cannabis patient get a card with a one-year duration.

Imagine having to renew your card every six months. That would mean a return visit to your QMP or LMP twice annually. Fortunately, lawmakers realized that six months was too short. Allowing a one-year term answers the patient’s need for access with as few barriers as possible while also balancing the need for medical providers to continue evaluating patients in order to recommend cannabis.

When Shorter Terms Are Recommended

While the default term for a medical cannabis card is one year, medical providers can recommend shorter terms. Why would a medical provider do so? There are a couple of reasons:

  • New Patients – A medical provider recommending cannabis to a patient for the first time might not think it in the best interests of that person to have a one-year card. The provider might recommend three or six months while planning a follow-up evaluation down the road.
  • More Frequent Evaluations – Likewise, a medical provider might feel as though a patient’s medical condition requires more frequent monitoring. Recommending a shorter term encourages the patient to return to the medical provider for more frequent evaluations.

It is important to note that medical providers can always extend the term to one year at the next renewal. Just because a patient’s current card is only good for three or six months does not mean it will remain that way forever. Medical providers have been given quite a bit of discretion in this area.

Talk With Your Provider

If you are ever concerned about the fact that your medical cannabis card has a shorter term, you can always talk with your provider about it. Ask the provider’s reasons and any concerns they might have. Having an open and honest dialogue is the best way to understand why your provider recommended a shorter term. In addition, a good conversation may convince your provider to recommend a one-year term at your next renewal.

Always remember that a valid medical cannabis card is required to purchase cannabis in Utah. When you visit the Beehive Farmacy in either Salt Lake City or Brigham City, you will need to bring your card with you. We are required by law to verify your card before we can sell you any product.

Now you know why some medical cannabis cards in Utah are not good for one year. Shorter terms may be recommended due to the fact that medical providers have been given that discretion.