The Utah Medical Cannabis Act came into effect on March 1, 2020, opening an opportunity for medical professionals to bring this treatment option to their patients.
As part of Utah’s new regulations, medical professionals must apply with the Utah Department of Health to become a licensed Qualified Medical Provider of medical cannabis. The process is not complicated, and has been laid out step-by-step on UDOH’s Medical Cannabis website.
Should you become a Qualified Medical Provider? There are several benefits to taking advantage of this program.
The passage of Utah’s medical cannabis law was driven by patient demand, and that demand is still largely unmet in this new program. Patients are reporting visiting multiple doctors in search of a provider who is willing, and qualified, to provide the recommendation letter required by the Utah Department of Health.
Of course, not every patient requesting medical cannabis will be the right fit for this treatment. But because many patients will already be using unofficial medical cannabis options, medical professionals need to understand the physiologic effects of cannabis as well as potential drug interactions. Even if you do not intend to recommend medical cannabis, expertise in the endocannabinoid system and medical cannabis is key to providing expert care for patients’ overall health.
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, psychologists, and other health professionals who become educated in these issues will be distinguished by their ability to address patients’ health questions related to the endocannabinoid system and the clinical aspects of medical cannabis.
For independent practitioners and private practices, medical cannabis is an opportunity to bring in new patients to the practice. The Utah Department of Health lists Qualified Medical Professionals on the medical cannabis website and directs patients to this list in order to find a medical professional to visit.
Alternatively, if a practice does not have a Qualified Medical Provider on staff, it may prompt patients to look for another doctor, leading to lost revenues.
Medical cannabis is here to stay for a while in Utah, and demand from patients for medical cannabis options will continue to increase. Polls in Utah have repeatedly shown over 75% of voters support legal medical cannabis options, even if there is disagreement about the approach to take. Staying up-to-date on the latest research through medical cannabis continuing education courses, as well as becoming a Qualified Medical Provider, will position your practice and your career at the forefront of changes and innovation.