Government

Cedar Rapids backs bid for cannabidiol plant

City is 'best location geographically' for proposal, company says

Lucas Nelson of Kemin Industries leads a tour in March of the MedPharm Iowa plant in Des Moines, the only place in Iowa licensed to grow and process medical cannabidiol. The Cedar Rapids City Council on Wednesday endorsed an effort by the Iowa Cannabis Company to open another cannabidiol manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Lucas Nelson of Kemin Industries leads a tour in March of the MedPharm Iowa plant in Des Moines, the only place in Iowa licensed to grow and process medical cannabidiol. The Cedar Rapids City Council on Wednesday endorsed an effort by the Iowa Cannabis Company to open another cannabidiol manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids is backing a company’s bid for a medical cannabidiol manufacturing plant here, saying it wants to become home to one of two manufacturing locations expected to be licensed in Iowa.

The Cedar Rapids City Council on Tuesday agreed to send letters to the Iowa Department of Public Health to support an application by the Iowa Cannabis Company, or ICC Mfg. Inc., for a manufacturer’s license. Applications are due May 31.

Aaron Boshart, of Iowa Cannabis, told the council Cedar Rapids is the “best location geographically” for the plant.

The plant would develop medical applicators for pills and topical tinctures in accordance with public health department guidelines, he said.

It would create 20 jobs in the first year, with hourly wages starting at $15 and salaries starting at $85,000 annually.

Safety and security for storage would be a “top priority,” Boshart said.

“Medical cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has proved medical benefits for a wide range of illnesses, from treating epileptic seizures and Parkinson’s to replacing opiates as a treatment for chronic pain,” he said.

In March, Iowa Cannabis was awarded one of five Iowa dispensary licenses to sell medical marijuana, which in Iowa is cannabis oil, at a dispensary in Waterloo. The state passed over an application from MedPharm for a dispensary in Cedar Rapids.

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A medical cannabidiol manufacturer would benefit city goals for economic development and growth, noting Iowa Cannabis falls within its targeted industry cluster for life science, according to the letter to the public health department.

DOUBLETREE LOSSES

The City Council also approved paying $1.04 million to the DoubleTree Hotel to cover losses in 2017 at the Cedar Rapids Convention Center and U.S. Cellular Center and for a set- aside for long-term capital improvements at the two facilities.

Losses, which are expected, amounted to $272,471 at the convention center and $83,378 at the arena, totaling $355,850.

“This is an investment in our community, and we get a tremendous return from having those facilities here, and they are doing really quite well,” council member Scott Overland said.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other action, the council:

• Deferred a vote to begin accepting applications for the Affordable Housing Commission, which has been defunct since the 1990s, until the next meeting on June 12. The commission is proposed to include 21 members and would review affordable housing projects and consider broader issues related to affordable housing.

• Rejected, under pressure from residential neighbors, a request to rezone property from residential to industrial and change the city’s future land use map at 804 44th St. SE — north of Mount Vernon Road SE — for an unspecified use, possibly a contractor’s warehouse.

• Supported an estimated $150,000 investment to install new wayfinding signs in the MedQuarter District.

Council member Ashley Vanorny questioned whether medical facilities in the area, which would benefit from the signs, had enough “skin in the game.”

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Traffic engineer Matt Myers said if stakeholders could agree on a plan, the city had agreed to cover the cost of installation, which for all of the downtown business districts could be $750,000 to $800,000. Stakeholders from MedQuarter, downtown and NewBo-Czech Village, GO Cedar Rapids, paid $98,000 to develop the plan.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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