BISMARCK - The North Dakota Department of Health received 19 applications from entities seeking to become licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in two of the state's largest metro areas.

Jason Wahl, the department's medical marijuana director, said Thursday, Aug. 9, they had received 11 applications for the Fargo region and eight for the Bismarck/Mandan area. The department has designated eight zones across the state for dispensaries and is staggering the application periods.

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The application period for the Fargo and Bismarck/Mandan regions closed Tuesday afternoon. Wahl plans to select the dispensaries around Sept. 21.

The Health Department hopes to have all eight dispensaries operational by mid-2019. The agency has already selected two entities to register as grow facilities, one in Fargo and another in Bismarck.

The applications for dispensaries, like those for manufacturing facilities, are confidential under state law, Wahl said.

Voters first legalized medical marijuana in 2016 but lawmakers edited what they saw as flaws in the legislation last year.