Health

Mayor backs medical marijuana site in Cedar Rapids

Seven groups apply for 21 dispensary locations throughout Iowa

MedPharm Iowa proposes several medical cannabis products, including an oil dispenser (left) and a transdermal cream applicator (right) that would dispense 2.25 milliliters of prescription cannabis cream per click. The cream could be applied topically for joint pain, explained Tom Swegle, CEO of MedCara Pharmaceuticals, of Conrad, which is working with MedPharm.
MedPharm Iowa proposes several medical cannabis products, including an oil dispenser (left) and a transdermal cream applicator (right) that would dispense 2.25 milliliters of prescription cannabis cream per click. The cream could be applied topically for joint pain, explained Tom Swegle, CEO of MedCara Pharmaceuticals, of Conrad, which is working with MedPharm.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s only licensed medical marijuana manufacturer wants to open a dispensary here and “would act as a partner with the city of Cedar Rapids in achieving our goal of becoming a city that supports residents’ health needs while providing economic development,” according to a letter earlier this week from Mayor Brad Hart.

Hart’s letter to state public health officials supported MedPharm Iowa’s application for a dispensary license. MedPharm was one of seven entities that filed applications by the deadline Thursday to operate medical marijuana dispensaries — and the only one that applied for a license to operate in Cedar Rapids.

The Public Health Department will license up to five of the applicants by April 1.

Those seven entities filed for 21 locations — four each in Davenport and Sioux City, three each in Council Bluffs and Des Moines, and one each for Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Iowa City, Urbandale, Waterloo and Windsor Heights.

The entities were not publicly identified by the heath department, but MedPharm was named in Hart’s letter. Separately, MedPharm also has asked for the support of Sioux City officials to open a dispensary there.

Hart called MedPharm “uniquely qualified for the dispensary license in Cedar Rapids” and would collaborate to achieve the city’s vision.

Dale Todd, a Cedar Rapids City Council member who advocated for medical marijuana legislation as past legislative chair of the Iowa Epilepsy Foundation, said he’d welcome a dispensary.

“The primary issue when we started working on medicinal cannabis legislation was access,” said Todd, whose 18-year-old son, Adam, has a rare form of epilepsy. “Currently, we have people from throughout the state who travel to Colorado or go wherever they can to get the medicine they need. By having a dispensary here in Cedar Rapids, we hope to be able to provide access to the medication that their doctor prescribes.”

The geographical breakdown of the proposed locations is:
CityNumber
Cedar Falls1
Cedar Rapids1
Coralville1
Council Bluffs3
Davenport Metro4
Des Moines3
Iowa City1
Sioux City4
Urbandale1
Waterloo1
Windsor Heights1
21

*NOTE: This table has been updated to reflect only 1 proposed location for Cedar Rapids, not 2

Scientific research shows medical marijuana can reduce seizure activity for some of those with epilepsy, he said. He said he would have no hesitation trying this option based on a doctor’s recommendation with his son, who currently is using four anti-seizure medications.

The Public Health Department initially got 71 letters of intent for dispensary licenses, but that number was pared down when it came to the actual applications.

The Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board, a nine-member group that helps advise the state on dispensary rules, locations and other matters related to medical cannabis, Friday will tour MedPharm’s 400-square-foot manufacturing facility in Des Moines. The tour is not open to the media.

Under an expanded medical cannabis law, Iowans diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, seizures, Crohn’s disease, ALS, AIDS, HIV or most terminal illnesses may qualify for approved marijuana products.

MedPharm estimates 6,381 Iowans will be registered to buy medical cannabis products in 2018, ramping up to 9,705 by 2021, according to the application the company filed with the state.

The company predicts a March-to-October growing season, followed by 20 days of manufacturing, 10 days for formulation and packaging and 10 days for testing by an external lab. This would culminate in products being available by mid-November, the company’s application states.

The products then would be sold in approved dispensaries across the state.

There still are questions about how much demand there will be for Iowa’s medical marijuana products, which are limited to 3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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