Business

2 medical marijuana companies eyeing Coralville dispensary opening

Iowa looking at issuing two licenses by late July

Lucas Nelson, general manager of MedPharm Iowa, stands in the company's dispensary in November 2018 in Windsor Heights.
Lucas Nelson, general manager of MedPharm Iowa, stands in the company’s dispensary in November 2018 in Windsor Heights. MedPharm and Iowa Cannabis Co. of Waterloo are vying to open another medical marijuana dispensary in Coralville. (The Gazette)
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CORALVILLE — Two Iowa medical marijuana companies are competing to open a dispensary in Coralville.

The Des Moines-based MedPharm Iowa and Waterloo-based Iowa Cannabis Co. are seeking a medical cannabidiol dispensary license in Coralville from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Coralville Mayor John Lundell has written a letter of support for MedPharm Iowa, and Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth has written one for Iowa Cannabis Co., though Lundell and Hayworth said they don’t have a preference for which company gets the license.

MedPharm Iowa is the state’s only licensed manufacturer of cannabis products and operates dispensaries in Windsor Heights and Sioux City, according to the company’s general manager, Lucas Nelson.

Iowa Cannabis Co. operates a dispensary in Waterloo.

Hayworth said both companies sought dispensary licenses for Coralville in 2018 but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

“We were fine with it,” Hayworth said of supporting either company. “We were fine with it two years ago. The council saw no issue in it. We just felt it was important to support whatever businesses wanted to do it.”

Hayworth said he is not aware where either company would locate a dispensary if they are approved for a license.

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Nelson, of MedPharm, said he couldn’t disclose the potential location. A representative from Iowa Cannabis Co. was not available for comment Tuesday.

But Nelson said his company’s preferred location is easily accessible and was “a really ideal spot for us.”

Nelson said there are numerous reasons why Coralville has been on his company’s radar for two years.

“It’s got a population we know is interested in medical cannabis,” Nelson said.

He also noted Coralville’s close relationship with the medical field and said a dispensary there would offer opportunities to University of Iowa researchers and others.

MedPharm Iowa manufactures medical marijuana tinctures, creams and capsules in various ratios of CBD or THC, as well as vaporization devices, Nelson said. The products are available in each of Iowa’s three dispensaries — Windsor Heights, Waterloo and Sioux City — as required by Iowa law.

The state currently is trying to fill two licenses created by the closure of dispensaries in Davenport and Council Bluffs earlier this year.

With two of the state’s five licensed dispensaries closed, Nelson said he hopes the request-for-proposal process will result in “two really strong operators, and we’ll end up with a very robust market again.”

“I think the biggest benefit it provides to us and the other current operator in Waterloo is some reassurance the program is not going to crater out there,” he said.

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Nelson said the dispensary proposals are due June 8, and he expects a decision on licenses in late July.

While his company is eligible to apply for a second license at another location, Nelson said the company is focusing on Coralville.

MedPharm Iowa also has received a letter of support from the Iowa City Area Business Partnership. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss MedPharm Iowa’s request for a letter of support during Wednesday’s work session.

Acreage Holdings temporarily closed its Iowa Relief medical marijuana manufacturing facility in southwest Cedar Rapids in April at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving MedPharm as the state’s lone manufacturer of medical cannabis products.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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