The state has received 29 applications from nonprofit groups hoping to operate one of eight medical marijuana dispensaries to be located around the state.

The Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services in the Department of Health and Human Services plans to review the applicants and award eight licenses on July 9.

The application deadline – it was today at 2 p.m. – brings the state a step closer to expanding access to the drug for registered patients with a variety of serious medical conditions under Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act.

A panel of four set up by the department will review and score each application based on long-term operation plans, convenience of location, prior business experience, patient education, record-keeping, inventory, quality control, security, staffing and other factors.

The DHHS will select eight dispensaries, one in each of the state’s eight public health districts. York and Cumberland counties will each have one dispensary.