WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- Medical marijuana dispensaries offering only cannabis oil are one step closer to taking shape in Iowa after the Department of Public Health issued five licenses to operate in the state.
“Well, it feels good to hit another milestone in the program, that's for sure,” said Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter.
Twenty-one companies applied and the Department of Public Health split the five licenses between three of them. The dispensaries will be located in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Waterloo, and Windsor Heights.
“Once all the licenses have been accepted, then we'll proceed with background investigations as required under Iowa law,” said Reisetter.
One of the companies that accepted its licenses will be operating the dispensaries in Windsor Heights and Sioux City. That company is MedPharm Iowa, which is also in charge of growing the medical supply for the state.
“We are so excited, it's a big day for the program, it's a big day for the patients, it's a big day for MedPharm Iowa,” said MedPharm representative Lucas Nelson.
Speaking from the under-construction grow facility in Des Moines, Nelson says security will be a top priority for MedPharm's dispensaries.
“When patients walk in, they'll be checked in by a security guard…you won’t be able to access the sales floor where the products are unless you're being escorted by an employee. Beyond that, we'll have all sorts of motion detection, we'll have cameras across the entire facility that'll operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we'll have a secure storage area behind the sales counter,” said Nelson.
In addition, MedPharm says there will be licensed staff to talk with patients.
“This would be someone who can really take you through your experience, what you might be trying to treat, which products might work the best for you, how you should use these products,” said Nelson.
The Windsor Heights dispensary will be located in the Apple Valley strip mall. Katie Kennedy says while she doesn't support recreational marijuana, having a medical dispensary nearby isn't a big deal.
“If someone has a condition where it's going to benefit them and help them retain who they are and better themselves and make them feel better in their daily lives, then I fully support it,” said Kennedy.
The Iowa Cannabis Company will operate the dispensary in Waterloo, and Seattle-based Have A Heart Compassion Care will operate the dispensaries in Davenport and Council Bluffs.