The Iowa Department of Public Health Tuesday offered licenses to distribute medical marijuana to businesses which proposed building dispensaries in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Windsor Heights, Waterloo, and Davenport.
Health Department spokesperson Sarah Reisetter says the companies were picked in part because of location to be able provide greater access to more patients. That is one of the reasons the last license went to a company in Waterloo. “When we were analyzing that fifth license and we looked at the map it became very apparent that Waterloo was important in terms of geographical representation,” Reisetter says.
The licenses were offered to the Iowa Cannabis Company in Waterloo, Have a Heart Compassion Care for operations in Council Bluffs and Davenport and MedPharm for facilities in Windsor Heights and Sioux City. Each has until 9 a.m. today to accept the licenses. Once they accept, there’s more background work.
“The next thing that will happen is they will go through a background investigation through our Department of Public Safety,” Reisetter says, “and provided that the background investigation is successfully completed, they would start building out their dispensary.”
MedPharm Iowa was given the only license to produce the cannabis oil products that the dispensaries will sell to people who have been approved for prescriptions. MedPharm was created in a partnership with Des Moines-based Kemin Industries.
Kemin’s general manager of outsourcing services, Lucas Nelson, says once the marijuana has been crushed to extract the oil, there are state guidelines for getting rid of it. He says they will take the plant material and grind it down very fine and then mix it with other composting material that will be shipped to a landfill.
Nelson says they will also take care of any unused cannabis oil. “We’ll make sure that any oil that is returned — again this is part of a regulation — oil that is returned to a dispensary or that maybe falls out of spec along the line of developing our products, all of that will be disposed of in a similar way,” Nelson says. “Basically, we will make sure that it is rendered unrecognizable and unusable.”
MedPharm has a deadline of December 1st to deliver the products to the dispensaries.
(By Kay Payne, Iowa Public Radio/Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson also contributed to this story)