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070516ho-Chris-Shimp

Chris Shimp

WATERLOO — A proposed medical marijuana dispensary near Crossroads Center has received an official endorsement from city leaders.

Waterloo City Council members voted 6-0 Monday to approve letter of support for the Des Moines-based Iowa Cannabis Co. to operate a cannabis product dispensary in a strip mall at 1955 La Porte Road.

Councilwoman Margaret Klein abstained from casting a vote, saying she wasn’t comfortable state officials had worked out all the details of the new medical marijuana program just getting underway.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is expected to announce as early as today which five of the 21 applications it received for prospective cannabidiol dispensaries would be licensed to sell products made at a manufacturing facility in Des Moines.

“Our focus is on patient education as this is a new form of treatment for many people,” said Iowa Cannabis Co. representative Aaron Boshart.

“Cannabidiol is not smokeable marijuana,” he added. “All the products being sold will be pharmaceutical grade products regulated and approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health.”

There also were five applications from the Des Moines metro area; four each from Sioux City and the Davenport metro areas; three from Council Bluffs; and one each from Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Iowa City.

City Councils in most other communities where applications are pending have approved similar resolutions of support for dispensaries. The Cedar Falls City Council never voted on such a request for the application there.

There was no opposition before Waterloo council members voted, although Councilman Steve Schmitt questioned why the city would endorse one company over any other.

“We are the only one that’s applying in Waterloo,” replied Boshart, although he said he would have been fine if the city removed his firm’s name and just endorsed a dispensary.

Councilman Chris Shimp said he felt strongly about endorsing the dispensary, noting his father suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which is on the short list of diagnoses for which a primary care physician can issue a medical marijuana card.

“As policy makers this body does have an obligation to the health and well being of constituents we represent,” Shimp said. “I feel it’s prudent to improve the quality of life for these individuals.”

Iowa legislators and Gov. Terry Branstad approved a bill in 2017 expanding access to cannabis oil for patients diagnosed with certain diseases and with terminal illnesses causing untreatable pain.

The law limited the oil to a tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content of up to 3 percent.

Dispensaries winning licenses are required to be operational by Dec. 1.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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