Location chosen for Council Bluffs medical marijuana dispensary

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health awarded three companies to open medical marijuana dispensaries in five cities across the state.

Have a Heart will accept the offered license and open shop right off Interstate 29 on 9th Avenue, according to the executive assistant to the CEO Marcelo Ramirez.

“The council actually took an action saying that we would be accepting of a dispensary here, and they did that two weeks ago," Mayor Matt Walsh said.

With news of the approved application, Mayor Walsh said it is a waiting game until its opening on December 1, 2018.

"Patients that have a qualifying illness won’t have to drive great distances to a local community to get their medicine," Mayor Walsh said. "From a patient standpoint, we think it’s positive for the patients. There has been some success that patients have had with these chemicals that maybe they haven’t gotten any other way."

Many in the community agree that those with medical complications should be able to get the medication they need.

"The research has shown nothing but benefits for it especially when it comes to medical uses. To me, if it’s going to relief someone’s pain, especially the chronic pain, none of us should stand in the way of that," Jacob Brandon said, who supports the dispensary.

Smoking marijuana is still illegal in the state, so the sale of medication will be through oil form called cannabidiol, and getting the necessary approval to take the drug doesn't come easy.

According to Iowa state law, the CBD oil must have no more than three percent THC in it, and permanent residents are only able to get the drugs.

Patients who have cancer, MS, HIV/AIDs, Crohn's disease, ALS, Parkinson's disease, untreatable pain and those with terminal illnesses will be able to purchase the medication.

"I believe they need to have a good strong medical history of pain or anxiety or seizures or whatever else it treats," Jaimie Walker said, who supports the dispensary.

The law also outlines permanent Iowa residents are those who can prove they live in the state with either a driver's license, utility bill or voter registration card among others, which means Nebraska residents who receive medical care in Council Bluffs won't be eligible to purchase the medications.

The dispensary needs to be open December 1, 2018, and company representatives said they are now in the works of getting the store up and running by that time.

According to Iowa Patients for Medical Marijuana Executive Director Jason Karimi, an estimated 6,000 Iowans will be eligible to use the medications.