North Dakota could launch medical cannabis program late this year

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(This story has been updated to reflect the state’s hope that medical marijuana sales will start in 2018.)

North Dakota’s health department hopes to have medical marijuana available by the end of the year in at least the state’s two largest cities, Bismarck and Fargo, though questions remain about how quickly manufacturing facilities will be up and running.

Though state voters approved the legalization of MMJ in November 2016, the health department has endured some criticism about the amount of time it is taking to make products available.

However, North Dakota’s timeline isn’t unusual when compared to other states that have legalized medical marijuana, according to the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

Recent delays revolve around the approval of cultivation/manufacturing facilities, Jason Wahl, director of the Division of Medical Marijuana, recently told Bismarck TV station KFYR.

Here are some further details from a status update and an annual report, which were issued recently by North Dakota’s health department:

  • Pure Dakota (Bismarck) and Grassroots Cannabis (Fargo) are in the process of securing approval from local zoning authorities. Once that is achieved, the businesses must meet state requirements to receive their certificates to begin operations.
  • North Dakota will award eight dispensary licenses across the state. The state accepted applications in July for the Bismarck and Fargo regions, with awards expected at the end of September. The state will open applications in September for the Grand Forks and Williston regions, with awards expected by year-end.
  • An open application period for the four remaining dispensaries is expected to occur in January 2019.
  • Patient and caregiver applications are expected to be available by the end of October.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily