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More than 500 apply for a slice of Nevada's medical marijuana pie

The state has received more than 500 applications for running medical marijuana establishments in Nevada. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that after scoring and ranking those applicants, public health officials will announce their choices in November. They expect the first medical marijuana purchases to be made by early next year.

Under new state law approved during the last legislative session, Nevada can house up to 66 medical marijuana establishments, which include dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing labs, and companies that produce edible marijuana or marijuana-infused products.

Most will set up shop in Clark County, but up to ten can be housed in Washoe.

Chad Westom is the bureau chief of medical marijuana for the state's division of public and behavioral health. He says applicants had to pay $5,000 just to be considered and that his staff's decisions will be based on several different factors.

"They're looking at things such as the labeling of the medical marijuana," he says, "that it's laboratory-tested, that the backgrounds of the owners and operators are appropriate and without inappropriate criminal convictions."

Officials reviewing the applications will also be looking at how business owners plan to track their sales to make sure they would be using electronic verification systems so only medical marijuana cardholders can make purchases.

Right now, more than 6,000 Nevadans are cardholders, and Westom says that requests have been steadily increasing over the past few months as excitement for the forthcoming dispensaries continues to grow.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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