Utah Medical Marijuana Card Qualifying Conditions
What are the Qualifying Conditions?
- Chronic Pain
- Persistent Nausea
- MS & Muscle Spasms
- Crohns’s Disease
- Epilepsy and Seizures
- HIV & AIDS
- Rare Conditions
- Terminal Illness & Hospice
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Persons with these conditions may receive their medical cannabis card once they have met with a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) and completed the state’s application process in EVS.
Continue reading below to learn about each and how medical cannabis can help.
Chronic pain is a condition in which a person experiences persistent pain, causing them to feel constant shooting or throbbing pain. Sufferers of chronic pain may experience sleep problems, anxiety, or insomnia, or be unable to concentrate in the workplace.
It affects more than 100 million Americans ever yeah, which means most people will deal with chronic pain at some point in their life.
The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) defines chronic pain as
“pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed… despite treatment attempts using conventional medications other than opioids or opiates or physical interventions”
The causes of chronic pain may include an injury, surgery, disease, or an unhealthy lifestyle. In some cases, a person may experience severe pain because of a history of emotional trauma, a history of abuse, or relationship problems. Other causes of chronic and severe pain can include depression or an unhealthy lifestyle.
Check out our list of other conditions associated with chronic pain that could potentially qualify you.
How cannabis can help with chronic pain
Medical marijuana can help patients with chronic pain to reduce the pain without the danger of addiction and symptoms associated with opiates, and allowing them to resume activities and function in their jobs and daily lives without the burden of constant, aching pain.
This is made possible by the cannabinoids present in the plant, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties that target receptors in the body that help it to regulate pain
In fact, over seventy percent of patients that qualify for a Utah Medical Cannabis Card do so for the specific use of chronic pain.
How cannabis can help with PSTD
While therapy and medications are helpful for PTSD, medical marijuana can also be an effective option, as one of it’s better-known compounds, CBD, has been shown to ease their symptoms, particularly anxiety. This helps them to overcome learned fears and calm their physical responses to trauma.It also has a better safety profile than prescription drugs and is increasingly being considered as a viable treatment option. In addition to treating the symptoms of PTSD, medical marijuana may also improve one’s general quality of life.
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow rapidly, caused by any number of reasons and factors.
Normally, cells grow and die naturally. But cancer cells do not stop growing and instead, they accumulate together in tumors that interfere with the body’s processes. Eventually, these tumors spread to other parts of the body and cause disease to the affected areas.
How cannabis can help with cancer
Research shows that cannabis has a number of potential benefits in treating cancer. In addition to reducing the symptoms of the disease, medical marijuana can also be used to alleviate the physical side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and neuropathic pain. In fact, marijuana is already being used as a treatment for other types of illnesses, such as AIDS and Crohn’s disease.
Additionally, cancer patients who use marijuana have lower pain medication prescriptions than those who do not, and cancer patients who inhale cannabis are more likely to engage in regular physical activity. For this reason, many cancer patients look to medical marijuana as a way to have a more fulfilling and normal life.
How cannabis can help with nausea
Nausea can be very difficult to treat using conventional methods, such as prescription pharmaceuticals. And considering most conventional products have side effects themselves, this only compounds the problem.
The good news, the use of cannabis for nausea has been studied for decades, going back to 1975, where participants in a study were able to alleviate their nausea with THC. In a more recent study, researchers found a type of CBD as a potential antiemetic.
In all, research has continually shown that cannabinoids like THC work as an excellent antiemetic, often working better than other prescription drugs.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective sheath that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord, often disabling many functions of the brain and spinal cord.
When this sheath becomes damaged, it interrupts nerve signals from your brain to other parts of your body, causing communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.
While some individuals may be mildly affected, others can lose the ability to write, speak or even walk.
How cannabis can help with MS
In 2014 the American Academy of Neurology conducted and systematic review for the potential use of medical cannabis for treating neurological disorders and even stated that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for some symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
And in 2018, another review of the use of cannabis and cannabinoids in treating symptoms of MS concluded that there is more than sufficient evidence to marijuana can help with muscle spasticity.This is all due to the plant’s neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be able to help protect neurons from degradation while supporting its functions.
Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the most common types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and are characterized by the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
While there are several differences between the two, they share several symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, and even weight loss.
That being said, the main difference between the two is that inflammation from Ulcerative Colitis is concentrated within the colon, while Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere within the digestive tract.
How cannabis can help
Because of marijuana’s inherent anti-inflammatory characteristics, it has the ability to help reduce the incidence of flare-ups, which are often the triggers of pain felt by patients affected by the diseases.
Additionally, cannabis has several effects on the gastrointestinal system that include ‘the relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, a reduction in visceral pain, and a decrease in gastric motility and secretions…’
Epilepsy & Seizures
Epilepsy, which means ‘seizure disorders’, is the 4th common neurological disorder.
These seizures occur when neurons in the brain send out the wrong signals, which then lead to surges of electrical activity.
This imbalance of electrical signals can result in violent muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. The cause of epilepsy is often unknown.
How cannabis can help with epilepsy
It has long been known that endocannabinoids play a significant role in the inhibition of excessive excitement by neurons in the brain, essentially acting as a brake, slowing the electrical activity in the brain that is often the cause of seizures.
In fact, in 2018 the FDA approved a cannabis-derived pharmaceutical made specifically for those suffering from certain types of epilepsy, which reduced seizures by 48%.
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex developmental disability characterized by significant challenges in 3 major areas: behavior patterns, social interaction, and communication.
The reason it’s called a spectrum disorder is that its symptoms and severity can broadly vary, though they usually appear very early in life.
It often leads to other medical problems as well, like sleep disorders and seizures, and is also associated with an increase in anxiety, depression, and attention issues.
How cannabis can help with autism
A 2019 study found that over 83% of auistic children experienced moderate to significant improvemens after using cannabis oil to treat symptoms of ASD, helping to lower behaviors like self-injury and rage attack, hyperactivity, sleep issues and anxiety.
Additionally, a cannabis-derived pharmaceutical was recently FDA approved to treat patients with specific types of epilepsy often associate with ASD.
While there are always exceptions, decades of research has show cannabis has been shown to well tolerated by persons all ages and conditions, including ASD.
HIV & AIDS
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks and harms the immune system by destroying your white blood cells, which play a vital role in helping the body fight off infection.
If left untreated, it leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a late stage in HIV infections that makes a person at risk of serious infections, disease and even cancer.
While the symptoms are HIV are moderate at the start (mostly flu-like in nature), the more serious symptoms can often take years to develop.
How cannabis can help with HIV & AIDS
While the benefits of marijuana are not unique to any one condition, it has been shown to help patients alleviate many of the of the debiliating sysmptoms associated with with the virus and the treatment of, like nausea/vomitting and chronic pain.
Another benefit to HIV+ patients is popular ‘munchies’ effect the plant has on people, which is particularly beneficial to infected patients, as many of them experience AIDS Wasting Syndrome, a condition that causes extreme weight loss.
Moreover, because of marijuana’s well-known affect on mood, many HIV+ patients report that taking the medicine helps them to emotionally cope with their diagnosis.
Terminal Illness & Hospice
Research in constantly being done to find if medical marijuana can help patients of other lesser-known diseases and conditions, but due to the sheer amount of ailments people all over the world experience, we just don’t know everything yet about how the plant can help with certain conditions.
Fortunately, the State of Utah has taken this into consideration and offers patients a way to use the medicine through the Compassionate Use Board.
Patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given less than 6 months to live, as well as those in hospice care, are automatically qualified to receive their medical cannabis card.
Provided there is no objection from your primary care physician and your qualified medical provider, there are no other specific conditions patients in these circumstances need to qualify for their medical marijuana card.
Cachexia is a “wasting” disorder that causes the body’s muscle’s to wasted, causing extreme weight loss that usually can’t be reversed by conventional methods (eating more).
It differs from regular weight loss in that it happens involuntarily, usually due to metabolic changes happening within the body due to some other chronic condition/disease the affected person may be experiencing, such as chronic renal failure, HIV, cancer, or multiple sclerosis.
It’s most notable prevalent among cancer patients, where nearly one-third will die from it.
How cannabis can help with cachexia
Probably the most common symptom that marijuana can help with those suffering from this condition is loss of appetite. An increase in apetite while using cannabis, commonly known as the ‘munchies’, is due to the cannabinoid THC found within the plant.
This increase leads to a higher caloric intake, which has the potential to increase body weight and body fat levels.
Since there is currently no cure for the disorder, marijuana can help those suffering from the disorder improve their general quality of life through the plants natural ability to elevate mood and reduce pain.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause dementia, a progressive brain disorder that causes the brain to shrink and neuronal death, eventually leading to the destruction of memory and thinking skills.
As a result, those affected begin to lose many of their cognitive abilities, from visual/spatial issues to carrying on a simple conversation. Eventually, everyday taks become a insurmountable feat for those where the disease has progressed too far.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
How cannabis can help with Alzheimer's
While there is still much research to be done, a few clinical trials have demonstrated that marijuana can help manage aggression and agitation on Alzheimer’s patients.
Other research has consistently demonstrated marijuana’s neuroprotective properties and it’s potential to stimulate the growth of neurons in the brain.
Indeed, cannabinoids have consistently shown to help to support healthy brain functions, as well as to curb inflammation and overall immune function – all of whic are incredibly important to suffers of the disease.
Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS is a rare and progessive neurological disease that affects the neurons in the brain and spinal cord responsible for controlling muscle movement.
As the disease takes hold over time, the affected nerve cells gradually begin to deteriorate, and eventually die. When this happens, signals from the brain cease, causing the muscles connected the affected neurons to stop working.
While it affects each person differently, paralysis and increased muscle weakness are nearly universal for all patients.
How cannabis can help with ALS
One of the main features of marijuana is that it enhances the cannabinoid receptors in the body that help to relieve pain. And while painkillers do pretty much the same thing, the side-effects of cannabis are much milder and well-tolerated.
Another way in which marijuana has been shown to help is in how its natural anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, helping to relieve muscle spastiticy in patients with ALS, slowing down the progression of ALS.
Other Conditions That Could Qualify For Medical Card
While this list may seem definitive, due to the way Utah has defined Chronic Pain, there are potentially many more conditions and diseases that could still allow you to qualify for a medical cannabis card.
If you have one of the following conditions, keep in mind that in order to qualify for chronic pain, you must be experiencing physical pain lasting longer than 2 weeks, despite any diagnosis.
*This list does not mean you automatically qualify for a medical cannabis card in Utah.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Chemotherapy Side Effects
- Chronic Nonmalignant Pain
- Essential Tremor (Kinetic)
- Hepatitis C
- Hirayama Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Lyme Disease
- Meniere’s Disease
- Migraine Headaches
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Ovarian Cysts
- Radiation Therapy Side Effects
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Tardive Dyskinesia
- Traumatic Brain Injury
There is still so much to learn about the marijuana plant. Researchers are learning new things about this mysterious plant every year, helping patients and medical professionals better understand it’s use in medicine. Indeed, there may be many more applications to the plant that we have yet to realize.
Regardless, many Utahns from all walks of life are discovering the medicinal powers within this special plant everyday, and using it to effectively aid in the treatment of their chronic condition.