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Interested ND medical marijuana growers, dispensaries asked to submit letters of intent

Kenan Bullinger, medical marijuana division director at the North Dakota Department of Health, sits in his office Tuesday May 2, 2017, at the state Capitol. He has been working to hire staff and write rules after the passage of the state's new medical marijuana law. John Hageman / Forum News Service

BISMARCK—The North Dakota Department of Health wants a better idea of how many applications it will receive from medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in the coming months.

The department asked for letters of intent from entities interested in applying to become a registered "compassion center" under the state's new medical marijuana law Friday, July 7. The letters are due by the end of business July 28.

Kenan Bullinger, director of the department's medical marijuana division, said an application period will follow the deadline for the letters of intent. A $5,000 non-refundable fee is required with the request for proposal application, not the letter of intent, he said.

"All we want to know with this letter of intent is to see how many applications we're going to get for both growers and dispensaries," Bullinger said. "That'll help us kind of set timelines."

The Health Department hopes to select growers and dispensaries by Nov. 1, Bullinger said. State law allows the Health Department to register up to two manufacturing facilities and up to eight dispensaries, but it could allow more to increase access.

A review committee appointed by the Health Department will score the RFP applications, the department said. Along with their fulfillment of state law, proposed administrative rules and application guidelines, applicants will be judged by their business plan, physical facilities, operations and other factors.

Friday's announcement marks another step in the state's efforts to implement the medical marijuana law after voters passed Measure 5 in November. Lawmakers rewrote the law during this year's legislative session with what they said were better safeguards, and Gov. Doug Burgum signed the bill in mid-April.

Bullinger said in early May that they hoped to have medical marijuana available in 12 to 18 months.

"We're still on track," he said Friday.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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