CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG)- Cedar Rapids missed out on landing one of the five medical marijuana dispensaries that opened statewide December 1st. But the city will be home for the state’s second marijuana cultivating and processing business.
A groundbreaking ceremony marked the official start of construction of Iowa Relief's Cannabis Cultivation and Processing plant on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids.
A number of city, business and political leaders turned out for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the Iowa Relief Cannabis Cultivation & Processing facility on Thursday.
The crowd was a sign of interest in a brand new Iowa industry that’s literally just months old.
Iowa Relief, now under construction at 405 26th Ave. Court S.W., will employ just 10 people in a warehouse-type building to start.
And there’s a real rush to finish.
The state board awarding the cultivation and processing license requires a plant up and running by July 1, 2019.
Patrick Doherty, Iowa Relief director of new development, says that won’t be a problem.
“Fortunately, Iowa Relief is a subsidiary of Acreage Holdings which has experience operating manufacturing facilities across the country. So we have solutions that could speed up the process,” he said.
Under Iowa’s medical marijuana law, only patients with nine specific conditions can purchase cannabis products containing no more than three percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The purchase also requires a cannabidiol card issued by the state. So far an estimated 600 Iowans have received the card allowing them to purchase medical marijuana.
Joe Bolkcom, a state senator from Iowa City, says broadening Iowa’s law to help this new industry grow should be a priority in the upcoming session.
“There is just no reason for people to suffer in this state when they can have access to medicine that can help and I hope we can work in a bipartisan way to fix the law,” Bolkcom said.
Doherty said the corporate parent of Iowa Relief has medical marijuana facilities in 18 states.
And Iowa’s law is by far the most restrictive.
But the company is interested in getting in on the ground floor here in hopes the business can grow and expand to cover more patients.