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MedPharm changes name to Bud & Mary’s, expands in Iowa and other states
Medical cannabis maker will sell recreational pot elsewhere
Iowa’s first medical marijuana manufacturer and distributor is changing its name, planning a $10 million expansion in Iowa and moving into other states where it can legally sell recreational pot.
MedPharm Iowa will become Bud & Mary’s Cannabis Co., showing a shift in the company’s focus from just medical marijuana allowed in Iowa to recreational marijuana products allowed in some other states.
“We feel like this better reflects our overall company, but it is not meant to suggest that medical isn’t important,” Lucas Nelson, group president, said in an interview Thursday. “Because we’re across three states now, we wanted something that could be the national and one day international company we hope to become.”
The name comes from Nelson’s grandparents, Mary Nelson and R.W. “Bud” Nelson. The Nelsons founded Kemin Industries, a global nutritional ingredient company in Des Moines, in 1961.
Chris Nelson, Lucas Nelson’s uncle, is president and chief executive officer of Kemin, and owner of Bud & Mary’s. He founded MedPharm Iowa, which was licensed by the state to grow and produce medical marijuana products in Iowa in 2017.
“This is a family-owned and operated business,” Lucas Nelson said. “Some of these other big corporations in the cannabis space are constantly changing hands with a veil on who owns it.”
Bud & Mary’s will break ground next week on a $10 million expansion of the Des Moines manufacturing facility to “allow for a 3x increase in cannabis production for the Iowa program in order to meet increasing patient needs.”
The expansion, to be complete early next year, would add at least 20 new jobs, the company said.
The company will expand a Colorado production facility later this year and move into Michigan with a cultivation and production facility and a dispensary. Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. Michigan approved recreational pot in 2018.
Those sites — as well as the company’s medical cannabis dispensaries in Sioux City and Windsor Heights — soon will be branded as Bud & Mary’s.
The company will continue to make and sell the same products, including Batch cannabis vapes, which, since their release in March, “are on track to be Iowa’s most popular medical cannabis product in 2022,” a company news release states.
The Batch vapes also were the most popular brand in their category in Colorado for 2020 and 2021, the company said.
Although Iowa law allows only medical marijuana use, the number of patients has “increased significantly in 2022” because patients now can get a registration card quickly “using online doctors” who certify they have one of the allowed medical conditions, which include chronic pain, the company reported.
When Iowa expanded the medical marijuana program in 2020, the state replaced a 3 percent cap on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, with a cap of 4.5 grams per patient every 90 days. This change made it legal for companies like Bud & Mary’s to sell 85 percent THC vapes, the company said.
Iowa law allows two medical marijuana manufacturers and five dispensaries. In addition to Bud & Mary’s two dispensary locations, the Iowa Cannabis Co. has three dispensaries, in Iowa City, Waterloo and Council Bluffs.
Iowa Cannabis also was granted a license to open a manufacturing facility in Iowa City, but the company has been seeking an extension on its deadline to become operational, the Iowa Department of Public Health told The Gazette in April.
The Bud & Mary’s name is similar to Bud N’ Mary’s, a popular fishing marina in Islamorada, Fla., founded in the 1950s. A Twitter search shows Bud & Mary’s Collective is a legal marijuana distributor in San Diego. There’s also a Bud & Mary’s dispensary being developed in Boston.
“That is someone else who is unfortunately using that name,” Lucas Nelson said. “They are not on the market yet, but we’ll have to deal with that. When we trademarked Bud & Mary’s, we realized we’d have to get that cleaned up.“
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