About 110 people started the process to get a medical marijuana card in North Dakota on Monday — the first day the state began accepting applications.
Jason Wahl, director of the North Dakota Department of Health's division of medical marijuana, said the opening day "went well" with the online registration system.
The health department hired the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,-based company BioTrackTHC to oversee the registration system, as well as track inventory of medical marijuana in the state from seed to sale.
Wahl said Monday the department hasn't "encountered any significant problems" with the company's registration system.
It's unclear the amount of time it will take for patients to be notified if they qualify for a registry identification card. Wahl said patients can track the status of their applications online. The Department of Health expects to begin issuing ID cards in December.
Monday was a day of celebration for advocates who pushed to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota in 2016. On Monday, Rilie "Ray" Morgan, who chaired the North Dakota Compassion Care Act Committee, called the implementation of the medical marijuana program "frustrating."
"We're glad that it's up and running, but certainly this two-year delay is totally uncalled for," Morgan said, adding that he believes frustrations will push voters to the polls next week to vote to legalize recreational marijuana.
Patients who qualify for a medical marijuana card must have one of 12 medical conditions, a terminal illness or a chronic disease that causes wasting syndrome, severe pain, intractable nausea, seizures and severe or persistent muscle spasms.
Patients also must have a written recommendation from a physician or advanced practice registered nurse who is licensed in North Dakota.. Once patients' applications are submitted, their health care providers have up to 90 days to certify patients' use of medical marijuana.
The medical marijuana manufacturing facility Pure Dakota, of Bismarck, continues to move forward with growing its medical marijuana plants. The company expects to have products ready to be sold to dispensaries in December or January.
Wahl said the Fargo manufacturing facility is expected to receive state approval in mid-November.