Seven months after Iowa Relief closed its medical marijuana manufacturing facility in Cedar Rapids, the city is poised to get another manufacturer. Reports The Gazette

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Dec. 22 issued a notice of intent to award a manufacturing license to ICC MFG Holdings LLC — the Iowa Cannabis Company — for a facility in Cedar Rapids.

The firm has accepted the license and the Public Health Department expects to issue it in the coming weeks, said Sarah Reisetter, public health deputy director.

“The license has been accepted but it hasn’t been issued yet,” she said. “The statute and RFP require the information in the application to be kept confidential until a license is issued.”

Iowa Relief built a 5,000-square-foot marijuana growing and processing facility at 1420 26th Ave. Court SW in 2019, but then closed the plant and gave up its manufacturing license last spring.

It’s unclear whether Iowa Cannabis is interested in this site or is planning to make medical marijuana products elsewhere in the city.

The closure left Iowa with just one manufacturer of medical marijuana products — MedPharm Iowa in Des Moines — that are then sold to qualified patients in licensed dispensaries.

» MORE MED CANNABIS NEWS: Medical marijuana outlet in Iowa City off, at least for now

Cedar Rapids City Council member Dale Todd, whose son has epilepsy and uses medical marijuana products to help control seizures, said he’s glad to see a new company invest in Cedar Rapids, but said Iowa’s cannabis law is too restrictive to allow businesses to make money in the program.

“I hate to sound like a broken record but until the state expands access for patients to medical cannabis, the business model for many of these operations is risky,” Todd said. “As a state, we have to do better.”

ICC MFG Holdings lists as its home office the same Spokane, Wash., address as Cannabis & Glass, a large recreational marijuana store affiliated with the Iowa Cannabis Company, which also operates a medical marijuana dispensary in Waterloo.

Aaron Boshart, director of operations for Iowa Cannabis, told The Gazette in December 2019 profits from the Washington state stores help support Iowa operations.

Boshart did not respond to messages this week from The Gazette seeking an interview.

COVID-19 has been hard for Iowa’s medical marijuana market.

The number of patients in Iowa’s medical marijuana program fell by one third during the first three months of the pandemic because some patients couldn’t get in to see their doctors or couldn’t go to driver’s license centers to get cannabidiol registration cards, officials said.

But as more certifying practitioners came online in July, the number of cardholders went up to 4,800 in December, according to the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board’s annual report.

Critics of Iowa’s law say it should allow higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which produces the high feeling and more medical conditions that qualify for use.