How Often Should Medical Cannabis Cards Have to Be Renewed?


Utah is among many states that require medical cannabis users to obtain a state-issued card with the recommendation of a qualified medical provider. Utah medical marijuana cards are not permanent. They have to be renewed from time to time. Other states do the same thing. The question some of them are asking is how often cards should have to be renewed.

It is a legitimate question when you consider how we treat every other prescription medication. A patient suffering from chronic pain cannot get an open-ended opioid prescription. Nor can he get an unlimited prescription for NSAIDs. But it is not limited just to pain medications.

Imagine you needed a prophylactic antibiotic prescription to prevent bladder infections. Your doctor could not simply write a single prescription to last the rest of your life. In a best-case scenario, he could write a prescription with enough refills to last for one year. But you would still need an annual exam to keep using the drug. Remember, this is an antibiotic. It is not a habit-forming opioid.

Medical Evaluations Are the Key

Medical evaluations are the key to understanding why doctors cannot write open-ended prescriptions. By their very nature, prescription drugs can only be obtained with a legitimate prescription because they are controlled. And why are they controlled? Because taking them separate from a doctor’s supervision could lead to unintended consequences.

Taking opioids without supervision will almost certainly lead to addiction. Furthermore, addiction is the result of tolerance. Guess what? Medical cannabis patients routinely develop tolerance to their medicines. That’s why cannabis experts encourage patients to go without for up to 72 hours each month. Doing so helps limit tolerance.

Medical evaluations are also important in determining the efficacy and safety of a particular drug. Going back to the antibiotic example, an annual medical exam may reveal that the drug is no longer working as intended. That being the case, continuing to take it would be foolish. The same type of thing can apply to medical cannabis.

Encouraging with Your Pharmacist

Medical cannabis is somewhat unique in that we still don’t have specialized drugs designed to treat specific conditions. That day will come soon enough. For now, though, there isn’t enough clinical data to use medical cannabis the same way we use other prescription drugs. This further strengthens the case for medical marijuana card renewals.

Annual or semiannual renewals encourage patients to work with their doctors and pharmacists. Pharmacists are especially important because patients can consult with them on every visit to a local pharmacy.

Imagine you were a patient of the Beehive Farmacy in Brigham City, Utah. You make a point of seeing your pharmacist every time you go to purchase more product. On the other hand, you are only going to see your doctor every 6 to 12 months unless a change in your condition precipitates an early visit.

Renewal requirements force those visits to the doctor. Furthermore, your doctor can utilize input from your pharmacist in determining whether or not your card should be renewed. None of this is possible if medical marijuana cards are issued on a permanent basis.

A Necessary Hassle

Medical marijuana patients may find regular card renewals nothing but a hassle. That is understandable, but renewals are a necessary hassle. Medical marijuana is a drug no different than prescription opioids or antibiotics. State-issued cards take the place of written prescriptions in states like Utah and Florida.

Until the law allows for standard prescriptions, medical marijuana cards are all we have to work with. They have to be renewed just like standard prescriptions.

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