Medical Cannabis Card Renewal: How Long Should Cards Be Good For?

Medical Cannabis Card Renewal: How Long Should Cards Be Good For?


States that have chosen to decriminalize medical cannabis tend to give access by way of some sort of medical cannabis card. The states may differ in terms of how cards are obtained and used, but the basic principle of permitting medical consumption by way of a state-issued card is pretty consistent. Cards need to be renewed from time to time.

This brings up an interesting question: how long should medical cannabis cards be good for? Is 90 days about right? What about six months, or even a year? The question isn’t a trivial one. Neither is the answer. If you are not sure why, consider the time limits associated with traditional prescription medications.

Going Back to See the Doctor

Every type of prescription medication is subject to limits. In other words, a doctor cannot endlessly continue prescribing a drug without ever seeing the patient in question. At some point, the patient needs to return to the doctor for a medical evaluation. Still, there are ways to reduce the frequency of such visits.

Imagine a middle-aged patient who takes a prophylactic antibiotic. Taking a drug prophylactically means taking it for prevention purposes. This person’s doctor has written her a prescription for a pill that contains twice the dosage she needs. She cuts the pills in half and takes one piece daily. This turns a 3-month supply into a 6-month supply.

Regulations prohibit the doctor from offering unlimited refills. For this particular drug, the maximum number of refills is equal to a 180-day supply. But because this particular patient cuts every pill in half, she gets nearly a full year out of her prescription. She only needs to go back to see the doctor on an annual basis.

A Similar Concept for Cannabis

Regulations prevent unlimited refills for the simple fact that conditions. Medication effectiveness can change too, so a patient’s health and wellbeing dictate that they see the doctor on a regular basis. Refills are limited in order to encourage patients to come in. A similar concept exists within the medical cannabis realm.

States with medical cannabis programs put time limits on state-issued cards. In order to renew a card, a patient has to go back and see his or her medical provider. The thing is that time limits vary from one state to the next.

According to the operators of, initial Utah medical cannabis cards were only good for 90 days when the state first implemented its program. Lawmakers eventually expanded card terms to 6 months, and then a full year. This is where things currently stand. Patients must renew their cards annually. In order to renew, they have to see a medical provider.

The Good and Bad of It

Requiring renewals and subsequent doctor visits has good and bad sides. It is good in the sense that it treats medical cannabis just like any other prescription medication. It forces medical providers to acknowledge that medical cannabis is still the most appropriate way to treat a patient. It also prevents patients from getting a card once, solely for the purposes of using marijuana recreationally.

The bad side of it is that requiring renewals and subsequent doctors visits adds to the hassle and expense of maintaining a valid medical cannabis card. Doing things the right way might not be worth it to some patients who would rather just go buy cheaper marijuana off the street.

Should states place time limits on medical cannabis cards? And if so, how long should a card be good for? Your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s.


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