Medical marijuana manufacturer license up for grabs in Iowa

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Iowa medical cannabis regulators are opening up a license for a second cultivator/processor to replace multistate operator Acreage Holdings, which dropped out of the market earlier this year.

The license could be critical for the 2-year-old program, which is struggling to be economically viable, partly because of high product prices.

But it’s unclear how many businesses will apply for the cultivation/processing license given the state’s heavy regulations, such as low THC levels, and low market access. Two of the state’s five dispensaries closed in March.

Iowa’s public health department issued the request for proposals with an Oct. 9 deadline for “intent to apply” letters.

Applications are due Oct. 23, and the state plans to award the license on Nov. 20, according to the state notice.

Owen Parker, the state’s medical marijuana program manager, told Radio Iowa that the state hopes the second MMJ product manufacturer will be in operation by July 2021.

Currently, MedPharm Iowa is the only cultivator/processor in Iowa.

Acreage, which did business in the stat as Iowa Relief, stopped its operations in April, then relinquished its license two months later.

The New York-based company pulled out of the market as part of a cost-cutting effort to focus on its most profitable markets.

Iowa MMJ sales are on pace to reach only $3.3 million this year, according to state data through August. By comparison, the new Marijuana Business Factbook projected sales of $7 million-$9 million.