Last year, Utah became one of the 37 states to legalize medical marijuana, and on March 1st 2020, licensed cannabis operators in Utah rushed to open their doors to welcome patients. The doors were not flung wide open, however; the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has instituted fairly strict protocols for receiving medical marijuana in the state. Your key to the dispensary doors (or pharmacy doors as they call them in Utah) is a Utah medical marijuana card. So, how do you get one?
Do I qualify for a medical marijuana card in Utah?
Before you go rushing off to purchase your first legal medical marijuana in Utah, you must determine if you are eligible for one. Namely, do you meet any of the qualifying conditions? UDOH recognizes many medical marijuana health benefits for many ailments, and lists the qualifying conditions as:
- HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to:
- Cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome
- Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist (defined here), and that:
- Has been diagnosed by a healthcare provider by the Veterans Administration and documented in the patient’s record; or
- Has been diagnosed or confirmed by evaluation from a psychiatrist, doctorate psychologist, a doctorate licensed clinical social worker, or a psychiatric APRN
- A terminal illness when the patient’s life expectancy is less than six months
- A condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care
- A rare condition or disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., as defined in federal law, and that is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions
- Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical provider’s opinion, despite treatment attempts using conventional medications other than opioids or opiates or physical interventions
If you do not meet any of these qualifying conditions, there is still a chance to receive a medical marijuana card if you apply with the Compassionate Use Board.
How old must I be to receive a medical marijuana card in Utah?
You must also be at least 21 years of age or be granted permission from the Compassionate Use Board if you are between 18 and 21 years old. Patients under 18 years old, if approved by the Compassionate Use Board, may also receive a Provisional Patient Card in conjunction with a guardian or caretaker who receives a Guardian Card. There is also a Caregiver Card for adults 21 years and older who care for patient cardholders who are unable to purchase medical marijuana on their own.
If I meet all of these criteria, what’s the next step?
If you meet these criteria, it’s time to find a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) who will assess if you are a qualifying candidate for medical marijuana in Utah. You must meet with your QMP in person, and you can find one here.
If your QMP approves you, the next step is to log on to Utah’s Electronic Verification System (EVS) to apply for a card. Once your application is submitted, your QMP logs onto the EVP to fill out their side of the application, which officially approves you for a card. Your first Utah medical marijuana card is good for 30 days, during which time the patient and the QMP must renew it. Subsequent cards must be renewed every six months.
After your QMP approves the card through the EVS, you must log back on to pay the $15 fee. Unfortunately, since marijuana is not yet federally legal in the United States, this fee or any other fee associated with medical marijuana is not covered by insurance. Once the fee is paid, the application goes to the UDOH for review, and if it’s approved, they will email you your card. Most applications are processed in 15 days or less. For patients under 21 years of age and patients without a qualifying condition, the review may take up to 90 days.
Once you receive your medical marijuana card, you may save it in your phone or print it out for purchase of medical marijuana in Utah pharmacies.
Once I have my medical marijuana card, where can I buy it?
UDOH has approved fourteen medical marijuana pharmacies so far. These are the locations where you can use your medical marijuana card:
- Beehive’s Own — Salt Lake City
- Dragonfly Wellness — Salt Lake City
- Justice Grown Utah — Salt Lake City
- WholesomeCo Cannabis— West Bountiful
- True North of Utah — Ogden
- True North of Utah — Logan
- Beehive’s Own — One location to be decided in either Box Elder, Morgan, or Rich County
- Deseret Wellness — Park City
- Deseret Wellness — Provo
- Curaleaf — Lindon
- Columbia Care — Springville
- Pure UT – Payson
- Bloom Medicinals — Cedar City
- Justice Grown Utah — St. George
If these locations are still inconvenient for your location, the state central fill pharmacy will deliver medication to 13 to 18 local health department locations throughout Utah. Also, some dispensaries are adopting delivery options for patients who find it more difficult to get to their local medical marijuana pharmacy.
How may I consume my medical marijuana?
UDOH has prohibited the smoking of marijuana, as well as consuming marijuana in most edible forms such as brownies, cookies, candies, etc. Whole, unprocessed flower is also banned under the new Utah law. However, patients may consume their medical marijuana using a device that heats the processed marijuana to a vapor, such as a dab pen or vape. Otherwise, marijuana can be consumed in Utah in these forms:
- Concentrated oil
- Liquid suspension
- Topical preparation
- Transdermal preparation
- Gelatinous cube
- Unprocessed cannabis flower in sealed container with 60-day expiration date
- If a patient does not respond to two forms listed above, a qualified medical provider may recommend a wax or resin dosage form.
So, that’s all there is to it, folks! As long as you meet the criteria listed by UDOH, the process for getting a medical marijuana card in Utah is safe and straightforward. Visit the Utah Department of Health website to apply now.