Potential licensees show interest in ND medical cannabis program

Nearly 100 groups and businesses in North Dakota have shown interest in producing or dispensing medical marijuana.

The health department in June asked those considering entering the state’s MMJ program to notify the agency by the end of the month so it could gauge interest.

The request exceeded expectations, with the agency receiving 97 nonbinding letters of intent, according to Kenan Bullinger, director of the department’s medical marijuana division.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to have the ability to have a dispensary in each part of the state,” he said.

North Dakota voters approved a medical marijuana program last November, and the legislature earlier this year crafted regulations that the governor approved in April.

The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act allows the use of MMJ to treat 17 medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The Health Department will register two “compassion centers” to grow and process the drug and eight more to dispense it.

The health department is finishing the process of drafting administrative rules that will cover such things as lab testing, security requirements and transportation regulations.

Once that’s complete, the agency will accept formal applications from potential processors and distributors – likely starting later this month and running through mid-October. Unlike the letter-of-intent process, MMJ business license applicants must pay a nonrefundable $5,000 fee.

The health department hopes to make final selections by the end of November. That likely would mean medical marijuana would be available by late spring or early summer 2018.

– Associated Press