SIOUX CITY | Iowa's sole licensed medical marijuana manufacturer is looking to Sioux City as the site of a cannabidiol dispensary.
MedPharm Iowa wants the Sioux City Council to submit a letter of support as it applies for a state license to open the dispensary in Sioux City. The council at its weekly meeting Monday will discuss whether to support the application.
The Iowa Department of Public Health Health earlier this year issued a request for proposals from companies with the intent of awarding licenses for up to five medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state. The application deadline is Thursday.
The IDPH plans to award the five licenses by April 1. The licenses must then be renewed yearly on Dec. 1.
Dispensaries are locations where patients and primary caregivers with valid medical cannabidiol registration cards can obtain cannabidiol.
Cannabidiol is a chemical found in cannabis plants that is used for products that help treat medical conditions. Medical cannabis cannot contain more than 3 percent of THC, which is the element in marijuana that produces the high.
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The request for dispensary proposals follows a new law signed in May by then-Gov. Terry Branstad that calls for up to two state-licensed medical cannabis manufacturers and expands the illnesses patients with a prescription could treat with medical cannabis. The list now includes chronic epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or HIV and others.
MedPharm Iowa was granted the first manufacturing license and must begin manufacturing products at its Des Moines facility by Dec. 1. The state plans to seek another manufacturer later this year, but is currently seeking applications for five qualified dispensaries to dispense products to eligible patients and caregivers.
Companies are allowed to submit applications for up to five dispensaries each, according to the rules.
Feb. 8 was the deadline for companies to declare an intention to apply for one or more dispensaries. Twenty-two entities submitted letters of intent for a combined 71 dispensaries, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
MedPharm is the only company that has requested support from Sioux City so far, according to city documents.
As part of the process, applicants must identify their cities of choice and show the cities' support of having a dispensary in their community. Licenses will not go to dispensaries if the cities don't support them, according to city documents.
Sioux City City Manager Bob Padmore said he is not yet aware of where the dispensary would be located if it is approved.
A representative of MedPharm Iowa said the company is refraining from commenting on the dispensary applications until approval is awarded.
Sioux City, Iowa's fourth-largest city, would potentially provide an accessible location to eligible patients in the northwestern part of the state. State officials have said they hope the locations of the five dispensaries will be geographically diverse to provide the best access to patients.
A combined seven patients and caregivers in Woodbury County have active registration cards to purchase cannabidiol, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation, which issues the cards. That is tied with Warren County for ninth-highest in the state.
There are 289 active cardholders statewide, with the highest concentrations in Polk (44), Scott (23), Linn (22) and Black Hawk (17), according to the DOT.
Editor's note: The story has been updated to eliminate an incorrect reference to MedPharm Iowa's relationship to the Des Moines-based Kemin Industries.