Health Dept. seeing a lot of interest in medical marijuana

Aug 1, 2017

File photo.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department says it has received 97 letters of intent from people interested in growing or dispensing medical marijuana.

The department had asked for letters of intent, just to gauge the interest.

In about a month or so, his division will start taking formal applications. Those applications have to be accompanied by a $5000 non-refundable application fee. That was passed by the 2017 legislature.

"People are going to have to do some soul-searching," said Kenan Bullinger, the director of the Health Department's Medical Marijuna division. "They have to make sure they know what it's going to take to apply, and make sure they cover all the bases."

Bullinger said the rules are now being reviewed by the Attorney General’s office, and will have to be looked at by the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee. He said once those are approved, his division will select two grower-manufacturers and eight dispensaries.

Bullinger said it will still take some time before North Dakota patients will be able to get the marijuana.

"It takes time to get their facilities built and ready, and there are a number of months needed to be able to get mature marijuana plants grown, harvested and then produced into the useable forms," Bullinger said. "That's going to take at least 6 to 8 months."

Bullinger said the hope was to have medical marijuana available about a year after Gov. Doug Burgum signed the legislation setting up the system. But he said it may take a little longer.

"We hope to have everything available to the qualifying patients in 12 to 18 months," Bullinger said.

The dispensaries will be chosen bases on geographic locations, to make them more accessible to patients.