Medical marijuana producer MedPharm estimates 6,000 Iowans as customers

MedPharm Iowa's application estimates demand, prices, grow schedule

MedPharm Iowa, Iowa’s first licensed medical cannabis manufacturer, plans to sell several medical cannabis products, including an oil dispenser (left) and a transdermal cream applicator (right). MedPharm, in its 465-page application to grow marijuana in Iowa, estimates more than 6,000 Iowans will register to buy the products starting in December 2018. (Erin Jordan/The Gazette)

Iowa’s medical cannabis manufacturer estimates more than 6,000 Iowans will be registered to buy products starting in December 2018, but so far, only 225 have registered.

MedPharm Iowa, licensed last week as Iowa’s first medical cannabis manufacturer, said in its 465-page application that the 400 square feet it has leased from Kemin Industries in Des Moines will be sufficient to grow 96 plants, which will “provide enough harvestable biomass to meet demand.”

Under an expanded medical cannabis law, Iowans diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, seizures, Chron’s disease, ALS, AIDS, HIV or most terminal illnesses now may possess 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 Iowa Legislative Services Agency estimated a similar market for 2018.

“Of the Iowa residents with eligible debilitating medical conditions as defined in the Act, an estimated 1.7 percent (6,022) per year may apply for a medical cannabidiol registration card,” the May report states. “Additionally, an estimated 359 caregivers will apply for cards.”

As of Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health had approved 225 registration cards, including 172 patients and 53 caregivers. The annual fee for registration is $100 for most patients, with a few exclusions. Caregivers pay $25 per year.

MedPharm’s application lays out a schedule for growing and manufacturing medical cannabis products by Dec. 1 — a deadline set by 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 application states.

The company says it will sell a 1-milliliter bottle of oil for $70; 30 soft gel capsules for $95; a 10-pack of suppositories for $40; and cream for $40 to $60, depending on the size of the bottle.

The application also provides more detail about the operating relationships within MedPharm Iowa LLC, which was listed with the Iowa Secretary of State on Sept. 18.

“MedPharm intends to contract with Kemin to serve as a medical cannabis consultant,” according to the application filed by Chris Nelson, who owns MedPharm and is president and CEO of ingredient manufacturer Kemin.

“MedPharm Holdings, another of MedPharm Iowa’s consultants, lends expertise in the cannabis industry to MedPharm Iowa’s operations,” the application states.

The holdings company has a medical marijuana-infused product license in Colorado and is building a new facility to grow, extract and develop cannabis products, Nelson said.

The contract, which the public health department provided to The Gazette after an Open Records request, was extensively redacted, particularly in areas concerning security and building and equipment specifications.

The state Department of Public Health has authority to issue one more manufacturer’s license and up to five licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries.

Reisetter said the dispensaries likely will be chosen by April.

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