Minnesota to pick medical marijuana manufacturers Monday

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A big step in the process of selling medical marijuana in Minnesota takes place Monday, when the Minnesota Department of Health announces the two companies it has chosen to process marijuana plants into legal medicine.

The two chosen manufacturers will each have four distribution sites across the state, so some cities are now considering potential plans for a marijuana production facilities in their communities.

The southeast metro suburb of Cottage Grove has been the most visible community in its pursuit of a medical marijuana facility. Official there have been working with LeafLine Labs, which is owned by some family members of the Bachman's floral company, since September to purchase a site in the city's business park if they are chosen one of the vendors.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said the City Council is ready to pre-approve everything for LeafLine Labs at a meeting Wednesday, according to KSTP.

"Thursday they can break ground, so we're that quick," Bailey said, adding that the lab could create 150 jobs within the first three years, according to the South Washington County Bulletin.

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 final two manufacturers ultimately selected will then 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.

Medical marijuana is meant to be ready for sale on July 1, 2015.

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

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