GRAND FORKS— North Dakota likely won’t open the application process for medical marijuana dispensaries until at least mid-May, but cities and counties already are preparing.
The State Department of Health began accepting applications for potential medical marijuana manufacturers on Friday. Applications will be accepted through April 19, and soon after the state will pick two manufacturers.
It’s a major step in implementing the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, a measure approved by voters in November 2016 that allows qualifying patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.
The state is hammering out the details of the application process for dispensaries, and the application process for choosing eight facilities to operate in North Dakota won’t open until after the manufacturers are announced, said Jason Wahl, medical marijuana division director for the health department. The goal is to begin accepting applications on May 17, but that date is tentative, he said.
The department is still working out the application process for dispensaries, so it’s unclear when it would choose which companies would run the facilities and where they would go.
The state set up eight regions to have one dispensary — the regions cover a 50-mile radius with eight of North Dakota’s largest cities at the center: Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Dickinson.
“There is no evidence to indicate we need more than eight,” Wahl said, though it’s possible more could be added if needed.
Dispensaries will have to pay a $90,000 registration fee every two years if their applications are accepted, while the manufacturers will pay $110,000 for a two-year registration. But before the businesses go to the state, they must get approval from counties or cities to build.