Many aspects of Utah’s medical cannabis law have evolved significantly since 2019, when officials first began crafting legislation in response to the voter proposition that approved medical cannabis. Even the most basic component of the program, the medical cannabis card, has undergone significant changes over the years.

As the calendar turns to 2024, are there any specific things new medical cannabis patients should know? Absolutely. Below are the most important among those things, compliments of Zion Medicinal in Cedar City. Incidentally, Zion Medicinal is the newest medical cannabis pharmacy in Cedar City, Utah.

1. Cards Are Still Necessary

At the top of the list is the fact that medical cannabis cards are still required to legally use cannabis in Utah. Although letters of recommendation were allowed during the first year of the program in Utah, that is no longer the case. Patients wishing to buy products at Zion Medicinal, or any other medical cannabis pharmacy, must have a valid card.

This includes visitors from out-of-state. Utah does not honor cards from any other states, but a temporary visitor card is available to any medical cannabis patient who has a valid card from their home state. Temporary visitor cards are good for three weeks and can be applied for twice annually

2. Cards Are Good for One Year

One of the more recent changes to the medical cannabis card in Utah is duration. Originally, cards were only good for 90 days. The state extended duration to six months and, in 2023, to one year. All new medical cannabis patients are given cards with one-year terms upon approval.

3. Professional Recommendations Are Required

A professional recommendation is still required to get a medical cannabis card. But there are some key differences. When Utah’s medical cannabis program was first launched, only qualified medical providers (QMPs) with special training and certification could recommend. But now, under the limited medical provider (LMP) program, any medical provider with prescribing authority can recommend cannabis.

What does that mean to new patients? If they cannot find a QMP in their local areas, their own doctors or nurse practitioners can recommend medical cannabis as long as they are willing to do so. The LMP program has made a huge difference, especially in rural areas.

4. Applications Are Accepted Electronically

Applying for a medical cannabis card is not difficult at all. However, new patients should understand that applications are only accepted electronically. There are no paper applications one can submit through the male. To start, applicants must have a UtahID account. They can then visit the state’s medical cannabis site to register for a new account and begin the application process. Renewals are handled online as well.

5. Acute Pain Now Qualifies

Lawmakers expanded Utah’s list of qualifying conditions during the 2022 legislative session by adding acute pain. Now, under certain circumstances, medical providers can recommend medical cannabis for acute pain that would otherwise be treated with prescription narcotics.

Pain relief following major surgery is the perfect example. If doctor and patient concur that post-surgical pain could last for some time and require prescription pain medication, medical cannabis is now an option. A surgeon can recommend medical cannabis in advance, allowing the patient to apply for a card prior to surgery.

If you are thinking about using medical cannabis in Utah, remember that you need a valid medical cannabis card issued by the state. There is plenty of information online describing the process for obtaining a card. Only with a card in hand can you legally purchase medical cannabis products at state-licensed pharmacies.