Medical marijuana manufacturing plant to open on 18th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids

Company with dispensary in Waterloo expected to get Iowa City and Council Bluffs licenses

Cannabis plants grow inside the MedPharm Iowa facility in July 2018 in Des Moines. A second medical marijuana manufactur
Cannabis plants grow inside the MedPharm Iowa facility in July 2018 in Des Moines. A second medical marijuana manufacturing facility, operated by Iowa Cannabis Co., will be opening in Cedar Rapids at 5137 18th Ave. SW. (The Gazette)

The Iowa Cannabis Co. has obtained a license to manufacture medical marijuana products at 5137 18th Ave. SW, the former site of Star Food Service Equipment & Repair in Cedar Rapids.

“We were issued our manufacturing license two days ago, so I’m looking forward to moving forward with that,” Aaron Boshart, director of operations for the company, told the Iowa Cannabidiol Board during a meeting Friday.

Boshart did not respond by text or email to additional questions from The Gazette about the Cedar Rapids manufacturing site or how the manufacturing license will work with the company’s dispensary in Waterloo.

Iowa law allows two manufacturers of medical marijuana products.

The first was MedPharm Iowa, which opened in 2018 in Des Moines. Iowa Relief, an affiliate of Acreage Holdings, was chosen in June 2018 to open a second manufacturing plant, this time in Cedar Rapids.

Iowa Relief built a 5,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation and processing plant at 1420 26th Ave. Ct. SW and started manufacturing a marijuana tincture there in 2019. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the number of Iowans participating in the medical marijuana program fell off temporarily. Iowa Relief closed its operation and turned in its license in early 2020.

Many people thought Iowa Cannabis would seek to buy or rent the Iowa Relief site because marijuana processing facilities have unique specifications. MedPharm Iowa said it spent more than $10 million retrofitting a 15,000-square-foot warehouse for its manufacturing plant.

Both MedPharm and Iowa Relief said in 2019 they had invested in special HVAC systems to prevent the smell of marijuana processing from becoming a problem for neighbors.

The new Iowa Cannabis site on 18th Avenue SW has a 15,000-square-foot shop, which is three times as large as the site on 26th Avenue Court SW.

An employee with Star Food Service said Friday their company moved out of the 18th Avenue SW warehouse in January.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Monday announced its intent to award the Iowa Cannabis Co. with dispensary licenses for Iowa City and Council Bluffs, giving the company three of the five dispensary licenses allowed by law.

The other two, in Windsor Heights and Sioux City, are operated by MedPharm.

Owen Parker, program manager for Iowa’s Office of Medical Cannabidiol, said at the meeting Friday the state would award those licenses after the window to appeal closes March 1.

The state had to restart its award process in November, when two companies complained Iowa Cannabis was unfairly selected in a previous round.

Iowa Cannabis is connected with Cannabis & Glass, a large recreational marijuana store in Spokane, Wash. Boshart told The Gazette in December 2019 profits from the Washington state stores help support Iowa operations.

Boshart said in the meeting Friday he’s looking forward to expanding with more licenses in Iowa.

“It’s been a very tumultuous year in getting these things issued,” he said, “but we’re finally getting to a place where we can move forward.”

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