Words Matter – Here’s the Deal With State Medical Card Programs

Utah residents looking to visit with a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) in advance of getting a medical cannabis card could go to any one of several KindlyMD clinics scattered throughout the state. Yet there isn’t any mention of medical cannabis on the KindlyMD website. Instead, the organization prefers to reference Medical (Med) Cards.

So what’s the deal? Why leave out the word ‘cannabis’? Because words matter. Utah medical providers are required to adhere to strict marketing rules. And because a website is considered a marketing tool, the company needs to be careful about the language it allows on their website. Thus, the reference to Med Cards and plant-based medicine.

KindlyMD is not alone. Operators in many other states face similar restrictions. It all goes back to the stigma associated with the plant itself. Until that stigma is eliminated, industry operators will be careful about their language.

About the Medical Card Itself

Utah’s Med Card program is similar to other state programs in some ways but drastically different in others. In terms of similarities, the Beehive State maintains a list of qualifying conditions for the Med Card. A patient whose condition is not on the list will not qualify.

The Beehive State also offers several different types of cards:

  • Patient Card – The most common card, it is intended for adults with qualifying medical conditions.
  • Caregiver Card – A card intended for adults who provide care to individuals with their own patient cards. A caregiver card allows the holder to purchase plant-based medicines on behalf of someone else.
  • Minor Card – A card issued to minors who would otherwise be ineligible for plant-based therapies. Minors in Utah still cannot purchase the medicines. Adults with a caregiver guard must purchase on their behalf.
  • Visitor Card – A card issued to visitors who have legal Med Cards from their respective states. A visitor card is good for 21 days.

Patients in states with Medical Card programs must possess valid cards to legally purchase and consume the plant-based medicines the cards cover. Obtaining a card is not necessarily difficult. In most states, it is a matter of visiting a doctor and then applying online.

Why a Patient Would Do So

All of this leads to a logical question: why would a patient bother to get a Medical Card to begin with? There are a number of valid reasons. Here are just two of them:

1. Conventional Treatments Haven’t Worked

In many cases, patients apply for their Medical Cards after having tried the complete compendium of conventional treatments. None of those treatments have worked well enough. Having nothing else to lose, it makes sense to get a Medical Card and try the associated plant-based medicines.

2. Patients Want Complementary Therapies

Along the same lines as the previous scenario, some Medical Card program participants are looking to supplement conventional therapies with a few complementary options. Imagine a chronic pain patient already receiving physical therapy and taking prescription pain medications. He might seek a Medical Card to give him access to complementary plant-based medicines.

The number of states with Medical Card programs continues to grow. At last count, thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia were onboard. Over the next few years, the chances are pretty good that the rest of the states will follow suit. Whether or not the states work together to harmonize their Medical Card programs remains to be seen.

In the meantime, organizations like KindlyMD will remain circumspect about the language they use. Words matter. They don’t want any trouble, so they will choose their words carefully. That is the best strategy right now.

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