The process is underway to select a second company to produce medical marijuana products in the state.

The end of May was the deadline for companies to file the paperwork with the Department of Public Health requesting a license, and Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter says they had more interest than the first time around. She says they received a notice of intent to apply for manufacturing licenses from eight entities and four followed through with applications. That compares to nine companies which indicated they would apply the first time and just one which did apply and received a license.

Reisetter says the time crunch between when the law was passed and the requirement to implement it kept more companies from seeking the first license. “We got those regulations written as quickly as we possibly could — but due to the requirement to have somebody license by December first — we were only able to provide potential applicants with four weeks to put their applications together,” Reisetter says. “So I think that compressed timeline in the fall of 2017 — and actually I heard from some potential applicants — that that was a problem for them.”

The applicants are asked a variety of questions about how they intend to grow the marijuana and how they will produce the medical marijuana products. “What products they intend to produce, what they are going to require in terms of qualifications for their employees, how they are going to transport the material form their facility to the dispensaries and to the laboratories. What they are going to do for waste disposal, what their security plans are,” Reisetter explains. She says the law requires them to keep the names of the applicants for the license confidential until a license is awarded.

The proposals now are in the hands of a review board. “After they review the applications they will score the applications and they will make a recommendation to the department about who they think is the most qualified applicant,” according to Reisetter. The Health Department will then award the second license on July 1st.

She says the manufacturer will have one year to make the product available, which will be July 1st of 2019. “Now there is nothing that will prohibit them from bringing the product to the market earlier if they are able to do that,” Reisetter says, “but we did give them the same time frame to get up and running as our first licensed manufacturer.”

MedPharm Iowa was awarded the first license to produce medical marijuana products and they are required to have them ready by December 1st of this year. The state has also issued licenses to dispensaries in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Windsor Heights, Waterloo and Davenport to sell the products.