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SIOUX CITY | Sioux City will be the home of one of five medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday. 

The state agency said it has approved MedPharm Iowa LLC's application for a Sioux City dispensary as one of five licensed medical cannabidiol dispensaries statewide. 

The new dispensary is expected to sit at 5700 Sunnybrook Drive and will be operational by Dec. 1.

MedPharm received two of the five state licenses, with the second approved location in Windsor Heights. The other companies approved to open dispensaries include Iowa Cannabis Co. Inc., which received approval for a dispensary in Waterloo, and Have a Heart Compassion Care, which received approval for dispensaries in Council Bluffs and Davenport. 

The state required the locations to accept the license by 9 a.m. Wednesday. 

"We are thrilled that the Iowa Department of Public Health selected MedPharm Iowa to operate dispensaries in Sioux City and Windsor Heights," Dr. Chris Nelson, owner of MedPharm Iowa, said in a news release. "We are also eager to work with the state’s other dispensaries to assist those dealing with chronic pain, cancer and debilitating diseases and help alleviate the opioid epidemic in Iowa."

Nelson is also president and CEO of Kemin Industries, a global ingredient company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, that serves as the lead consultant to MedPharm Iowa.

In addition to operating two dispensaries, MedPharm Iowa holds the sole medical cannabidiol manufacturing license with the state and must begin manufacturing products at its Des Moines facility by Dec. 1.

The dispensaries will serve patients and primary caregivers with valid medical cannabidiol registration cards that allow them to obtain cannabidiol. 

Lucas Nelson, general manager of outsourcing services for Kemin Industries, said Tuesday that MedPharm had applied for a Sioux City location because of its status as an easily accessible hub of entertainment, shopping and medicine in northwest Iowa. 

"One of our big first draws was obviously the fact that it's a large population base with a lot of medical care that's delivered in the city," he said. "People from all over northwest Iowa, and really western Iowa in general, travel there." 

Nelson said next steps include finishing lease negotiations and starting the necessary work at the facility. He said it could open in the fall to offer educational and informational meetings, with the products to arrive around the Dec. 1 deadline. 

The state received 21 total applications from seven manufacturers to open dispensaries, four of whom requested to locate in Sioux City. 

Ten other applications met the license eligibility requirements, including two additional Sioux City locations. The state said it does not intend to grant licenses to the others unless one of the five approved dispensaries does not accept its license. 

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.

The Iowa Department of Public Health requested the proposals from companies under Iowa's expanded medical marijuana law signed last year.

As of early March, a combined seven patients and caregivers in Woodbury County possessed active registration cards to purchase cannabidiol, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation, which issues the cards. That was tied with Warren County for ninth-highest in the state.

The state in early March reported 289 active cardholders statewide, with the highest concentrations in Polk (44), Scott (23), Linn (22) and Black Hawk (17), according to the DOT.

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City hall reporter

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