The use of cannabis as a medical treatment for various health conditions has spread rapidly across the US, with legal prescribing and dispensing of medical cannabis (MC) now available in most states. Nevertheless, state policies vary regarding the management of MC programs. Understanding patients’ experiences within a state MC program—both in terms of treatment access and health-related impacts—is therefore of paramount importance for developing policies, programs, and practices that will meet patient needs and lead to the best outcomes. To this end, our team is conducting a program evaluation of the Utah MC program. This project is specifically building a patient-centered, stakeholder-engaged, sustainable platform for long-term health-related inquiry and knowledge dissemination. The information generated by this project will enable state leaders to recommend needed program changes in order to support the needs of program participants.
The goals of this project are to (1) establish an Evaluation Advisory Board that includes community members and health care providers who will work with our research/evaluation expert team. In collaboration with this Board, our team will (2) answer immediate critical questions of program effectiveness and patient benefit using a mixed methods prospective evaluation framework. Topics of interest include methods of medical/non-medical cannabis acquisition, patient use characteristics, provider characteristics, monthly product costs, barriers to MC access, effects of medical treatment over time, reasons for discontinuation, patient experiences in the program, and recommendations for program improvement. Finally, this project will help to (3) identify barriers and facilitators of long-term prospective cohort utilization following the initial evaluation period—which will lay the groundwork for continued evaluation and research of the Utah MC program into the future.