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Developers take step toward Minot dispensary

MINOT -- Developers of a medical marijuana dispensary cleared one hurdle in gaining the support of the Minot Planning Commission Monday, Feb. 25, for a pharmacy in the Dakota Square area.

The recommendation to rezone the property and issue a conditional use permit now goes to the Minot City Council. However, the developer, Solevo of North Dakota, also must receive the approval of the State Health Department, which will be selecting one applicant to provide dispensary services in Minot. Tuesday was the deadline to apply, and the health department was not yet releasing any applicant numbers.

Solevo of North Dakota is a new company formed by the Lee family of Berthold. Rebecca Lee would serve as manager if the dispensary is approved.

George Withus of Minot, a Solevo of North Dakota board member, said the company is associated with Solevo Wellness in Pennsylvania. Solevo opened its first dispensary in Pittsburgh in February 2018 and now has three locations with more openings planned in 2019.

Solevo in Pennsylvania will be providing expertise and helping with setup of a Minot dispensary, Withus said. Solevo maintains a pharmacist and physician on staff at its dispensaries, and that would be the case in Minot, he said. A North Dakota patient who receives certification from a care provider can go to Solevo and meet with staff to determine the type and dosage of marijuana for treating the condition, he said.

State law outlines the types of conditions for which people may obtain medical marijuana cards. Legislation is pending that would expand the list of conditions.

Cindy Springstead urged the planning commission to approve the zoning, which would place the dispensary in an area where another clinic and pharmacy already exist.

"Something like this would help not only myself but other people that are like me," said Springstead, who has Crohn's Disease, of a medical marijuana dispensary.

"We want to be known as a medical facility, which we are, and that we are there for the good of the people who need that kind of help," Withus said Monday prior to the meeting.

The pharmacy will be marked only by a sign denoting it as Solevo Wellness. Withus noted the clinic would exist for clients eligible to obtain marijuana and would not market to the public. The pharmacy also would have security on hand.

"We are probably a more secure facility than some of the local pharmacies in Minot," Withus said.

The proposed location is at 2301 16th St. SW.

"We looked at a number of different places," Withus said. "This one seemed to make the best sense for us. It was accessible for people who don't have transportation." The Dakota Square area is on the city's bus route.

Withus said the North Dakota pharmacy is expected to use Solevo's existing suppliers, at least until North Dakota growers can be vetted. The state is permitting only two manufacturing facilities.

If approved, Solevo Wellness is aiming to open in April. Withus said there would be efforts to educate the public about medical marijuana, including speaking to service clubs, and the company plans to be engaged in supporting community causes.