Iowa City’s new dispensary largely responsible for 15 percent boost in statewide sales in October, officials said

Cannabis plants grow inside the MedPharm Iowa facility in July 2018 in Des Moines. (The Gazette)

The board governing Iowa’s medical marijuana program plans to ask the Iowa Legislature to allow the state public health department to decide how many dispensaries for consumers there should be — and where they should be located — rather than restricting dispensary licenses statewide to five.

“It’s well-documented that patients are traveling far distances” to get medical marijuana products, said Owen Parker, chief of Iowa’s medical cannabis office in the Iowa Department of Public Health. “There are plenty of areas of the state that do have a two or more hour drive.”

The board voted unanimously at a virtual meeting Friday on a recommendation to the Iowa Legislature to change the law to give the state health department discretion to decide how many dispensaries are licensed and where they will be located.

This would allow the agency to consider putting more dispensaries in urban areas with a higher concentration of registered patients, while still balancing access by rural

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