North Dakota eyes spring 2018 start for medical cannabis sales

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Medical marijuana sales in North Dakota would begin next spring under the state’s tentative timeline for its MMJ industry.

The state health department plans to open the application process for growers and dispensaries in early August and close it at the end of September. The agency would review applications in October and make selections in early November.

Regulators estimate cultivators will need about six months to set up facilities and grow the first medical marijuana crop. If the timeline plays out, sales would begin in April, May or June 2018. That time frame falls within the department’s earlier estimates.

“I think we’re still on track to deliver 12-18 months after the signing of the bill,” said Kenan Bullinger, director of the department’s MMJ division.

North Dakota voters approved medical cannabis last November, and state lawmakers earlier this year crafted a measure setting up a regulatory structure. The governor signed the bill in April.

The health department unveiled its timeline while asking potential MMJ growers and distributors to notify the agency by July 28 whether they plan to apply for the two cultivation licenses or eight dispensary permits the state expects to award.

Regulators are requesting nonbinding letters of intent from prospective business owners to get an idea how many applications they may receive and how long it could take to process them.

There’s no cost for potential growers or distributors to submit a letter of intent. However, all applicants will pay a nonrefundable $5,000 fee. Cultivation licensees will pay $110,000 and dispensaries $90,000 for two-year certificates.

– Associated Press