UDOH opens pre-registration to become medical cannabis qualified medical providers

Thoughts on the Week - from Mark Briesacher, MD, SVP, Chief Physician Executive

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The Utah law that was passed in December 2018 is materializing incrementally. It’s taken some time to familiarize healthcare systems, caregivers and patients with the law and the treatment option, and for the state to assemble the infrastructure. Intermountain’s multidisciplinary Medical Cannabis Advisory Team, led by Sabrina Cole, PharmD, Executive Operations Director for System Pharmacy Services, has been working to understand the evolution of the law and keep physicians, providers and caregivers informed and prepared to align with the law’s rollout and opportunities. 

Updates from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Team:

As of February 2020 the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has opened the opportunity for physicians, advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants who are licensed to prescribe a Schedule II controlled substance to start pre-registering as “qualified medical providers” (QMPs) (learn more here). Application involves four hours of UDOH-approved continuing education, certification of completion, a Utah ID account and a $100 registration fee. QMPs can also choose to allow UDOH to make their names and contact information available to the public (only upon the individual QMP’s permission). 

On March 2nd, 2020, the electronic verification system (EVS) launches, which opens the opportunity for patients to start applying for medical cannabis patient cards—and for QMPs to begin recommending medical cannabis—through the EVS. March 2nd is also the date when eight of the 14 total pharmacies chosen by UDOH will be permitted to open their doors. Only individuals with medical cannabis cards will be permitted inside the medical cannabis pharmacies. 

March 2nd, 2020 is a milestone, but not a deadline. Although QMPs may begin recommending medical cannabis through the EVS on March 2nd, 2020, the law does not require that all recommendations be made through the EVS until December 31st, 2020. For the time being, providers who have not registered to be a QMP may continue to recommend treatment with medical cannabis outside of the EVS. However, individuals with recommendation letters (as opposed to medical cannabis cards) will not be permitted inside the Utah medical cannabis pharmacies. Providers interested in becoming a QMP are encouraged to pursue registration/pre-registration sooner than later.

Keep in mind that providers can bill patients’ health insurance for visits in which a medical cannabis evaluation is done using a billing code appropriate for the ailment—but providers can’t bill insurance for the medical cannabis treatment itself.

If you’re interested in learning more about the law or becoming a QMP, please attend one of the UDOH’s approved medical cannabis-specific continuing education courses, which includes the Intermountain Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE)-led conferences. Upcoming courses by IPCE will be recorded and available for remote viewing in March as enduring material that’s counted as the four-hour required education, but providers still need to submit their certificate of completion. 

Please note these milestones do not change our policy for use of medical cannabis in Intermountain facilities. Generally, medical cannabis use and possession is prohibited in Intermountain hospitals and facilities. 

If you have any questions about the law, please contact the UDOH or speak with your medical director.