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Why Renewing a Medical Cannabis Card Makes Sense

More than three-dozen states have approved medical cannabis. In every case, patients need some sort of documentation proving they have the legal right to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis for medical purposes. Most states issue medical cannabis cards that need to be renewed periodically.

Some medical cannabis users have openly wondered why their cards need to be renewed. It is a common question, especially among patients with chronic conditions expected to last their entire lives. I get the frustration experienced by such patients who need to renew their cards from time to time. Nonetheless, requiring card renewal makes a lot of sense.

A Card Is Not a Prescription

The starting point for understanding renewal requirements is the fact that a medical cannabis card is not a prescription. It is more like a license. It is a license to purchase and possess medical cannabis, similar to a license that allows a person to drive. But the license comes with certain restrictions, including qualifying conditions.

In Utah, the operators of the Zion Medicinal cannabis pharmacy in Cedar City say that persistent pain is the number one reason for applying for a medical cannabis card. Also known as chronic pain, persistent pain can be caused by an almost limitless number of conditions and diseases. But persistent pain does not necessarily last a lifetime.

Imagine a patient who injures his back. His pain is debilitating enough that he has trouble continuing to work. Medical cannabis helps manage his pain, enabling him to live a fairly normal life. Now, imagine this goes on for several years until the patient learns about the latest injection therapy.

He might choose to undergo that therapy and, as a result, find himself pain free. He no longer needs access to medical cannabis. When his next renewal comes up, his doctor might not be willing to recommend cannabis. That’s okay. The injection therapy has solved this problem.

A Person’s Health Changes

Something similar to medical cannabis card renewal exists within the prescription arena. There are very few prescriptions, if any, that can be written perpetually. Even something as common as an antibiotic has its limits.

I know someone who takes a prophylactic antibiotic to prevent urinary tract infections. My acquaintance has been using this drug for as long as I can remember. However, she doesn’t have a perpetual prescription. Her prescription can only be renewed a certain number of times within a 6-month period. Because she takes a half dose daily, she can stretch it out for a year. But then she needs to go back to the doctor to get a new prescription.

Federal and state laws mandate this sort of thing for the simple fact that a person’s health changes. And that’s true for all of us, by the way. Our bodies change and evolve over time. The level of good health each of us might experience today will not be identical to our experiences a year from now. That’s why prescriptions have to be renewed.

Keeping the Doctor in the Loop

The goal of both prescription and medical cannabis card renewal is to keep a patient’s doctor in the loop. Furthermore, the doctor should be kept in the loop because they are the most qualified individual to recommend healthcare.

Having to renew a medical cannabis card can seem inconvenient. Perhaps it even is. But in the end, renewal makes a lot of sense for both patients and doctors alike. Requiring renewal ensures that medical cannabis is being used appropriately. Otherwise, we would be left with a chaotic system that could ultimately be devoid of medicinal value.

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