Starting Oct. 29, North Dakota medical marijuana qualifying patients and their designated caregivers can apply to obtain registry cards.
Meanwhile, one of the two proposed medical marijuana manufacturing facilities still awaits state approval, and two of the applicants selected to apply to operate dispensaries in Bismarck and Fargo have not yet received local government approval nor met state requirements.
Under the state medical marijuana program, there will be two medical marijuana manufacturing facilities in Bismarck and Fargo and eight dispensaries throughout the state.
The North Dakota Department of Health's division of medical marijuana has established application rounds for each of the eight regions. Jason Wahl, division director, said he anticipates medical marijuana products will be available to patients early next year.
However, all eight dispensaries are not likely to be open by the time medical marijuana products are available to patients. Cardholders will be allowed to purchase products from any of the eight locations.
"Patients can go to any of the dispensaries, and dispensaries may be offering home delivery services, as well," Wahl said.
Bismarck and Fargo dispensaries are expected to be the first to become operational, according to Wahl. It's not clear whether the facilities will be flooded with patients at that time.
"The patient population remains to be seen in regards to the program," Wahl said. "The data from other states' medical marijuana programs that we've had a chance to review typically shows slow growth at the start of the programs."
Wahl said, under the current timeline, he hopes to have all eight dispensaries registered by June 30.
"It really is dependent on the real estate transactions and how quickly they're able to have their plans approved by the local government, and also get their renovation work and meet the other requirements under the ... rules for the program," he said.
Finalists to open dispensaries in Williston and Grand Forks will be selected in mid-November, and, in January, the application period will open for the final four regions: Devils Lake, Dickinson, Jamestown and Minot.
The division of medical marijuana plans to print and mail medical marijuana registry cards in December. Patients who apply must submit a nonrefundable $50 annual application fee and provide a written certification, signed by a health care provider, verifying that the patient has a debilitating medical condition.
For more information, visit www.ndhealth.gov/mm.