Competition for state’s first cannabis facilities

In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, a Colorado woman loads an oral syringe with cannabis-infused oil to treat her daughter who suffers from severe epilepsy. Brennan Linsley/AP

Montevideo, Minnesota, hopes to be home to one of the state’s first two medical cannabis manufacturing plants. And if not Montevideo, maybe somewhere in surrounding Chippewa County.

The city and county have passed resolutions supporting the construction of a medical marijuana facility in their area. Montevideo city manager Steve Jones says there’s no stigma he sees in his town of being associated with marijuana, a drug that’s still illegal in the state.

“There’s nothing in it that bothers us,” said Jones. “We’re certainly on board with something that will help mankind.”

Jones says someone he calls a local developer is trying to bring a medical cannabis facility to the community. He says he can’t name the individual, but may be able to soon.

Applying for a state license to make the product won’t be cheap, it’ll cost a non-refundable $20,000 application fee. That’s likely to discourage some hopefuls, but state health department officials say they expect at least five businesses to make a serious run for the two available licenses.

Assistant Health Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala says the department has already heard from nearly a dozen interested businesses. He says the agency will probably have a briefing sometime this summer for anyone who wants to learn exactly how to go after one of the two licenses. He also says the agency’s website on medical cannabis is now live. He says the real push to award the first manufacturing licenses will start in a few months.

“We will put out a request for applications in late summer, early fall” with the goal of making a selection by Dec. 1, said Munson-Regala.

The first medical cannabis products should be ready for distribution to patients by July of next year.

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