The director for the medical marijuana program Randy Mayer says the rules approved by the board had a few changes based on feedback from the single company that has been licensed to make the product.
“They were very specific about some things that could make their operations a little easier and a little bit cheaper,” Mayer “So we did accept a lot of their comments and make some changes about how they operate and what their security looks like and things like that to make it a little easier and less expensive for them.” Mayer says with the rules now in place, they can move to the next step.
“The next big project that we will be working on is licensing the five — up to five dispensaries — that would be selling the products to the patients and their primary caregivers across the state,” Mayer says. MedPharm Iowa was the only company to complete the licensing process to grow marijuana and manufacture cannabis oil here after nine companies had expressed interest.
Mayer expects there to be interest in the dispensary licenses, even though it is going to take some work to get the business going.
“We only have about 250 patients and primary caregivers registered right now, it’s going to take a number of years to build that patient base,” Mayer says. “So there are some fees associated with running dispensary and somebody’s going to have to have substantial collateral I think to get a dispensary running while waiting for the patient base to get built up to where I think it is going to start being profitable for them.”
The director of the Health Department says the manufacturer of medical marijuana is going to have to pay around $200,000 in fees. Mayer says dispensaries will also have to put up a lot of money for their license, as they estimate the fees to be in the range of $120,000 or so per year. The companies will be required to pay a $7,500 application fee, and pay a $10,000 bond for each background investigation of the company owners. The state will pay the company a refund if the background investigation costs less. They will also have to pay a $200 deposit on background check fees for each employee of the company.
Mayer says they will release the application for dispensaries in the last week of January and he says this may be the only time a company has a chance to receive a license. “We anticipate that unless someone is issued a license and they return it to us — or for some reason they fail to follow the rules — we won’t refuse to renew a license for one of those licensees,” according to Mayer. ” So, I think that people understand that you need to get the license up front when we are offering it at this point.”
The manufacturing company by law is supposed to have the product ready for sale by December 1st 2018. “That’s probably the earliest that we will have product available for people to start purchasing. I know a lot of people are waiting for that date, so I think that that’s an important message to get out,” Mayer says. A state representative who is a pharmacists says there are some estimates that it will cost the state one million dollars to implement the medical marijuana plan.