Council Bluffs could get a medical marijuana dispensary; what does that mean for the metro area?

Iowa communities will know soon whether they will be getting a medical marijuana dispensary — and one could land right across the river from Omaha.

Seven companies have submitted 21 applications to operate dispensaries in Iowa, and three of those are for Council Bluffs. The dispensaries are part of a law approved by the Iowa Legislature last year.

Nebraska does not have a law legalizing medical marijuana. A resolution this year to put medical marijuana on the ballot did not have enough support to be debated in the Legislature.

The Council Bluffs City Council voted 5-0 on Monday to lend its support to bringing a medical marijuana dispensary to the city. The final decision rests with the Iowa Department of  Public Health, which will review the applications.

Councilman Roger Sandau, who put the resolution on the agenda, said the symbolic vote sends a message to state officials that the council understands the health benefits of having a dispensary in the city.

Council Bluffs Police Chief Tim Carmody said he supports helping people in pain but expressed concerns. He talked about marijuana-related crimes of the last few years and noted that dispensaries are cash-based businesses with products that could be the target of robberies.

The Iowa Department of Public Health plans to award up to five medical marijuana dispensary licenses by April 1.

The World-Herald talked with Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of department, about how the dispensaries will work.

Q: Who will be able to purchase the cannabis products?

A: Only permanent residents of Iowa will be allowed to purchase them. Residents of Nebraska or any other state will be not be eligible.

Q: How will that work?

A: Patients must fill out an application and the patient’s doctor must sign off on the application to certify that the patient has

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