Selection process under way for downstate medical marijuana centers

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Cannabis_sativa2The state  is moving forward with plans to selector owners for  two privately held  medical marijuana “compassion center” operators in Kent and Sussex counties.

Emily Knearl, section chief for the office of health and risk communications for the Delaware Division of Public Health, stated that the selection committee met last week, adding that the selection process is under way.

The next step, according to Knearl, will be to enter into negotiations with the leading bidders.

“The next step will be to enter into the negotiation process with the leading bidders.  We may enter into negotiations with multiple bidders but will ultimately select one from each county,”  Knearl said.

The goal is to make an announcement in August of this year.

“if we are unable to complete successful negotiations no bid would be awarded in this round.,” Knearl stated.

The state’s first medical marijuana center opened last year near Wilmington and bids were not sought for the state’s other two counties until the New Castle County site had  successfully  operated  on a pilot basis.

The centers grow and dispense marijuana for those suffering from a number of medical conditions.

There was some controversy over the selection, with a principal being a well-connected former state trooper   and   staffer for Sen. Tom Carper.

Another principal in the venture has experience in running medical marijuana sites.

Neighboring Maryland and Pennsylvania are in the early stages of  setting up medical marijuana sites.  Interest  among potential bidders has been strong, thanks to the combined population of the two states totaling  more than 18 million.

Delaware was an early adopter  of medical  marijuana,  but held back on opening centers, due to mixed signals from the federal government on its stance toward  cannabis.

Since that time, the government has agreed not to stand in the way of medical marijuana or efforts to legalize small amounts of the drug for recreational use.

Colorado, Oregon and to a lesser extent, Washington, D.C. have  legalized marijuana.

The issue came up in the General Assembly last week when State Sen. Colin Bonini, suggested that Delaware had moved so far in the direction of legalization that it might as well go all the way.

Gov. Jack Markell has ruled out signing legalization during his time as governor. Markell leaves office in January.

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