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Medical marijuana dispensary to reopen in coronavirus hot spot in North Dakota

A photo of The Botanist, North Dakota's first medical marijuana dispensary, in Fargo, N.D. in February 2019.Dave Kolpack/Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — While a task force of state and local officials wrestles with high COVID-19 numbers in the Fargo area, one shuttered business in the city is set to reopen on Monday: a medical marijuana dispensary.

The facility in North Dakota’s largest city closed down in early April when its operators cited slow sales and regulatory delays due to the coronavirus. It was the first of eight dispensaries in the state to open after voters approved medical marijuana in November 2016.

The dispensary, formerly known as The Botanist, has new owners and a new name, Pure Dakota Health.

“We're grateful for the patience of registered qualifying patients since the unfortunate closure of the Fargo dispensary,” state Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl said in a statement. Nearly 3,000 patients are registered with the program, he said.


Meanwhile, the effort to test targeted areas in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, metropolitan area bumped the coronavirus numbers to new daily highs in Saturday's report, North Dakota health officials said.

Officials reported 2,861 tests statewide in Friday's compilation and 75 new COVID-19 cases in Cass County, which went over 1,100 in the number of people testing positive. More than 1,000 of the tests in the last day were people who had been previously screened.

Health officials have warned the actual number of infections is higher because many people may not display symptoms or have not sought testing for mild symptoms.

The Cass County results, as well as eight positive tests in Grand Forks County, led to a statewide total of 88 new cases, the most in one day in the last month. There were three positive cases in Burleigh County and two in Mountrail County.

The report was favorable in two closely-monitored categories, with no new deaths and a drop in hospitalizations for the second straight day.


North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who last week formed a task force to focus on the Fargo area, said Friday that “we’ve got a ways to go” to zero in on all the testing and tracking in the state’s largest metropolitan area. The task force is trying to find more people to help with contact tracing.

“We have to do a better jot at a local level,” Burgum said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.