MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some of the names showing interest in growing and selling medical marijuana in Minnesota are familiar ones. Friday began the first step towards finding two manufacturers.

“It’s not as simple as putting a couple of pots in your basement with some grow lamps,” said Manny Munson-Regala, the assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Department of Health is charged with finding two manufacturers that can grow plants and turn them into medication in a way that is safe, predictable and affordable.

“These are large scale industrial operations,” Manny Munson-Regala. “When you’re growing medication for 1,500, 2,000, or 5,000 patients, you’re growing at a scale that requires some kind of systematic process.”

And that translates into the state looking for companies with deep pockets. The application buy-in is a non-refundable $20,000. And that’s the cheap part.

“Your bigger buy-ins would be your starting capital you need to start a business and to be able to sustain a business for a period of time where we would expect not a lot of patients are going to be there,” Munson-Regala said.

The request for applications is now out.

Early interest is being shown by two Minnesota companies. A spokesperson said Bachman’s Inc. is not interested, but a group of family members is.

And Garden Fresh Farms out of Maplewood said they have the perfect set up already and are “considering options, costs and partners.”

“At some level I just need two really good ones. So I don’t need a lot of applicants as long as two of them are excellent,” Munson-Regala said.

To move forward, companies have to submit a letter of intent by Sept. 19. Applications are due Oct. 3. The two manufacturers will be selected in December, with product available in Minnesota next July.

Jennifer Mayerle

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