ND patients may have to wait until 2019 for medical marijuana

Marijuana, Photo Date: undated / Photp: Pixabay / MGN
Marijuana, Photo Date: undated / Photp: Pixabay / MGN
Published: Aug. 7, 2018 at 2:55 PM CDT
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Medical marijuana was on track to get into the hands of North Dakota patients by the end of the year.

But now, a health department report says that timeline is in jeopardy.

Jason Wahl, the Division of Medical Marijuana director, says the most recent holdups are approving the manufacturer buildings. The approval for construction has to come from the cities of Bismarck and Fargo. Wahl says those plans are taking longer to submit to the city than the division anticipated.

The law went into effect in April of 2017, and patients are still waiting for applications, which should be available in October.

As the recreational marijuana petition is being reviewed for the November ballot, lawmakers and law enforcement are asking what’s the hold up?

K9 handler Lyle Sinclair with the Bismarck Police Department warned legislators on Tuesday that medical marijuana will give officers like him more investigative work.

"It's like alcohol, I'm over 21 and get pulled over drinking alcohol, the officer is going to investigate until it's no longer,” said Sinclair.

But he's used to adapting, something he might have to do again if recreational marijuana makes the November ballot. State senator John Grabinger, D-N.D., says that issue is gaining momentum because of failures to implement the medical program.

"We could have done this much quicker and taken a cue from many other states that have already implemented it and have got the medical marijuana out there to the public that is asking for it and needs it,” said Grabinger.

More than a year after the law took effect, there's no product for North Dakota patients. Division Director Jason Wahl says he understands the frustrations, but they don't foresee any additional delays.

"There are certain factors that impact the timeline such as construction, review of plans or possible changes that need to be made to plans as they're going through their construction phases,” said Wahl.

Wahl adds hope for product by the end of the year isn't gone.

What’s the new timeline?

- Bismarck and Fargo dispensaries, according to Wahl, should have the application process completed by the end of September and opened by the end of the year.

- Grand Forks and Williston will have dispensary applications opened in September and selected around the end of the year. They will open likely in March.

- January 2019, the remaining regions- Jamestown, Devils Lake, Minot and Dickinson- will have their applications opened up.