N.D. Health Department establishes medical marijuana dispensary regions

Submitted Photo This map from the State Health Department shows the eight regions in which medical marijuana dispensaries can be permitted.

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health has established the Minot area as one of eight regions where medical marijuana dispensaries can be established under the state Medical Marijuana Program.

The regions include a 50-mile radius surrounding eight cities. In addition to Minot, the cities include Fargo, Bismarck/Mandan, Grand Forks, Williston, Dickinson, Jamestown and Devils Lake. State law allows up to eight dispensaries to be registered.

“Medical marijuana dispensaries are the locations where registered qualifying patients and registered designated caregivers will be able to purchase usable marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana program,” said State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte. “By establishing eight regions, the North Dakota Department of Health is able to provide access to dispensaries to the majority of the population in the state with as minimal travel as possible.”

A dispensary can be located anywhere within one of the regions. While the same entity can apply in multiple regions, the proposed rules only allow the same entity to possess one registration certificate.

“Even though an open application period for dispensaries is several months away, the health department wants to provide prospective dispensary applicants sufficient time to determine which region or regions they’d like to apply in,” Tufte said. “This will also allow prospective applicants an opportunity to obtain certain approvals required by state law to submit an application. For example, an applicant must submit evidence of approval from local officials of compliance with local zoning laws.”

The City of Minot has adopted zoning rules that treat dispensaries as medical clinics and allow them in commercial or light industrial areas. Permits would be required, allowing the city to put conditions on the facilities. Marijuana growing and manufacturing facilities must be located in agricultural or industrial areas and only with conditional use permits.

Ward County prohibits dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a property line of a pre-existing public or private school. Dispensaries are allowed in highway commercial districts with a special use permit. Manufacturing facilities are allowed in the county with special use permits in industrial districts.

Under the health department plan, qualifying patients will be able to obtain usable marijuana at any dispensary. However, the health department will be tracking purchased amounts and qualifying patients will not be able to buy more than 2.5 ounces of dried leaves and flowers and 2,000 mg of THC total from all other products every 30 days. Qualifying patients must have specific authorization from their health care provider in order to purchase dried leaves and flowers.

Under the proposed rules drafted by the health department, dispensaries will have the option to deliver usable marijuana directly to a registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver anywhere within the state.

While state law authorizes six forms of usable marijuana, the availability of these forms at each dispensary will be determined by dispensaries and manufacturing facilities.