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Medical marijuana will be grown, processed in Cottage Grove and Otsego

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The Minnesota Department of Health picked LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions to manufacture medical marijuana, which should be available starting July 1, 2015.

The two companies will be responsible for growing marijuana, processing it to pill or liquid form and distributing it through eight different sites (four per manufacturer) across the state, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday.

LeafLine Labs, which is owned by some family members of the Bachman's floral company, has been pre-approved by the city to open a manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove – they'll break ground this month, the company says.

LeafLine Labs plans to open an initial distribution center in Eagan on July 1, 2015, with other locations in Hibbing, St. Cloud and St. Paul before July 1, 2016, the Department of Health said.

Minnesota Medical Solutions (MinnMed) will manufacture marijuana in Otsego, and should be functional by this week. The company says it will open four distribution sites in July, with locations in Rochester, Maple Grove, Minneapolis and Moorhead, the Department of Health said.

Although the distribution sites are sprinkled across the state, patients living in southwestern and west-central Minnesota may not have convenient access to a distribution center. The closest sites for them will likely be in Moorhead, the Twin Cities or Rochester.

Costly gamble

Applying to be a medical manufacturer in Minnesota was a costly gamble for some businesses.

In all, 12 businesses officially applied for the manufacturing job (with about 29 initially showing interest).

To apply, applicants were required to pay a non-refundable $20,000 application fee, as outlined in the application Q&A. The two manufacturers will be on the hook for an annual fee to cover the costs of the state monitoring the program, which could range from $75,000-$100,000.

There are also, the Pioneer Press noted, investments that will need to be made in facilities, machinery, and the process of turning the plant into a legal medicine (since the law does not allow the plant to be smoked in leaf form, but rather ingested as a pill or oil).

Marijuana is still technically illegal under federal law, but the Attorney General’s Office has not taken action against states that approved a legal cannabis law.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the medical marijuana bill into law in May, which makes it legal for an estimated 5,000 Minnesotans with certain medical conditions to be eligible to purchase the drug from approved manufacturers in the state.

See a full timeline of the medical marijuana program rollout here.

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