When Utah’s medical cannabis law went into effect on March 1, 2020, patients began trying to submit the letters of recommendation for medical cannabis treatment that they had received from their doctors. Many of these patients were disappointed: the doctors who had written their letters had not gone through the process with the Utah Department of Health to become Qualified Medical Providers, and their letters were disregarded.
The Utah Medical Cannabis Act allows patients to access medical cannabis options, but the law also put into place a regulatory framework that controls which medical professionals are able to assist them in accessing medical cannabis in the State of Utah. These regulations require that medical professionals become Qualified Medical Providers registered with the Utah Department of Health before assisting patients with medical cannabis.
As of March 25, 2020, the Utah Department of Health reports that 203 Qualified Medical Providers have registered under their regulations across the entire state. This leaves a great deal of opportunity for medical professionals to enter the market and provide this in-demand service.
According to the Utah Department of Health, “Utah-licensed physicians (MD, DO), advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants who are licensed to prescribe a controlled substance may receive approval from the UDOH to recommend medical cannabis treatment for their patients.”
The first step in this process is to complete four hours of medical cannabis-specific continuing education. The continuing education program must be provided by a UDOH-approved course. As of January 2020, four courses have been approved to meet this requirement, including the Substance Education Institute’s Medical Cannabis program. SEI’s Medical Cannabis continuing education course was developed in partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine, with content developed directly by controlled substance experts on their faculty.
The second step in becoming a Qualified Medical Provider is to access the electronic verification system (EVS) on the UDOH’s Medical Cannabis website and begin the medical cannabis card application process. The EVS QMP Application User Guide can be found here.
Once you have completed the QMP Application, your next step is to pay the medical cannabis card application fee. This fee is $100 for the first year, and $50 for a two-year renewal following that.
After your application fee has been paid, the completed application will be submitted electronically to the Utah Department of Health for review. This application review process will be completed within 15 days of the application being submitted.
Once all the requirements have been met, the UDOH will issue your Qualified Medical Provider Registration Card and email you a copy. Now you can begin the process of providing your patients with recommendation letters for their medical cannabis cards.
Finally, when you provide a patient with a recommendation letter for medical cannabis, the patient will need to initiate their application on the UDOH’s electronic verification system. At that point, you, as the QMP, will log in to the EVS through your ID, and complete the medical professional’s section of the patient’s application, which includes the recommendation for medical cannabis treatment. After you have submitted this recommendation, the patient may submit their medical cannabis card application to the UDOH.
If you need additional resources, the Utah Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis website has gathered together a resource library for providers, including guidance, frequently asked questions, and the text of Utah’s Medical Cannabis laws, that you can access here.