Is marijuana legal in Iowa?

No. Cannabis, whether for medical or adult-use purposes, is not legal in Iowa. 

However, registered patients and caregivers are allowed to purchase medical CBD products from a state-licensed dispensary. Iowa specifies the allowed forms of CBD medication as well as the CBD to THC ratios. 

Possession of any amount of cannabis apart from state-licensed CBD is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Legislation history

The Iowa Legislature passed SF 2360, otherwise known as the Medical Cannabidiol Act, in 2014, which enabled licensed neurologists to certify patients with intractable epilepsy to use CBD products with 3% or less THC content. The act decriminalized the possession of cannabis oil used only in the treatment of chronic epilepsy but made no provision for purchasing it. Gov. Terry Branstad signed HF 524, or the 2017 Medical Cannabidiol Act, which added qualifying conditions and directed the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) to license dispensaries.

In 2018, committees in the Iowa Legislature considered amendments to the Medical Cannabidiol Act but did not adopt any changes. However, in June 2020, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed HF 2589, adding several qualifying conditions and expanding the list of  medical professionals allowed to recommend medical cannabis. The new law also changed the amount of THC allowed from products with 3% or less THC to 4.5 grams total THC over a 90-day period.

Where is it safe to purchase weed in Iowa?

Registered patients or caregivers can purchase medical CBD from one of Iowa's licensed dispensaries. Patients are allowed to buy products containing up to 4.5 grams of total THC in a 90-day period. Treating physicians can recommend more THC for terminally ill patients or others who haven't been helped enough by 4.5 grams per 90 days. 

Approved products all come from one manufacturer and they are available in four different CBD to THC ratios:

  • 20:1
  • 2:1
  • 1:1
  • 1:20

Approved medical administration methods include:

  • Nebulizable (used in a nebulizer, which converts liquid medication into a breathable mist) 
  • Oral
    • Capsules
    • Liquids
    • Sublingual
    • Tablets
    • Tinctures
  • Suppositories
    • Rectal
    • Vaginal
  • Topical forms
    • Creams
    • Gels
    • Lotions
    • Ointments
    • Transdermal patches
  • Vaporizable (Vapes)

CBD flower is not legal. Neither is cultivation. 

Where is it safe to consume cannabis?

Iowa's medical cannabidiol statutes do not mention where patients can consume their medication. Most forms are oral – tablets, capsules, tinctures – so consumption shouldn't be an issue. Vaping is likely not allowed anywhere smoking is prohibited.    

Possessing cannabis

Registered patients and caregivers may possess no more than 4.5 grams of THC each 90-day period unless the patient has a terminal illness or a waiver from their doctor. The THC must be in one of the allowable forms. Cannabis flower and home cultivation are illegal. 

Medical marijuana in Iowa

Qualifying conditions

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Cancer with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia (wasting disease)
  • Chronic pain
  • Corticobasal degeneration
  • Crohn's disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Severe, intractable autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior
  • Terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of under one year if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following:
    • Cachexia, or severe wasting disease
    • Nausea or severe vomiting
    • Severe or chronic pain
    • Nausea or severe vomiting
    • Cachexia (wasting disease)
  • Ulcerative colitis

Application process

Patients or caregivers for minors/incapacitated adults can apply at the OMC. They must first download the Practitioner Certification Form and visit their healthcare provider to have them complete the form. Next, they complete an online or print application and submit it along with:

  • A copy of a valid state-issued driver's license or ID
  • $100 payment or $25 and copy of Social Security Disability or Medicaid card 

Temporary medical cards are sent by email while permanent cards are mailed out. 

Caregivers

Adult patients can designate a caregiver when they fill out their registration application. Then they provide the caregiver with the patient application number, which the caregiver uses to fill out their registration. 

For minors, the healthcare practitioner form is all that's required and it will have the designated caregiver's name on it. 

Once the caregiver has either the adult patient's application number or the minor patient's practitioner form, they complete their application and include:

  • Valid photo ID, either: 
    • Driver's license from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wisconsin 
    • Iowa state ID card
  • Payment of $25 

Temporary caregiver cards are sent by email while permanent cards are mailed out.

Reciprocity

Out-of-state patients with valid medical marijuana or CBD cards from their home states can possess and use medical CBD but they aren't allowed to purchase from an Iowa dispensary.

Lab testing

State law mandates that manufacturers contract with state-approved labs to test random samples from each lot of product. 

Labs will test for:

  • Cannabinoids
  • Metals
  • Microbiological impurities
  • Pesticides
  • Potency 
  • Solvents

Frequently asked questions

What medicinal marijuana is legal in Iowa? 

Registered patients or caregivers can purchase medical CBD from one of Iowa's licensed dispensaries. Patients are allowed to buy products containing up to 4.5 grams of total THC in a 90-day period. See the “Where is it safe to purchase?” section above for details on the exact forms and ratios available.

What is legal in Iowa in terms of marijuana?

Medical CBD products purchased from a state-licensed dispensary are the only form of marijuana that's legal in the state.

What type of crime is possession of a controlled substance in Iowa?

Possession of any amount of cannabis apart from state-licensed CBD is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalty goes up for 50 kilos or more. 

Is possession of a controlled substance a felony in Iowa?

It depends on the substance and the amount. For marijuana, possession of less than 50 kilograms is a Class D felony punishable by up to six months in jail and fine of no more than $1,000 for a first offense. Penalties increase significantly for larger amounts and subsequent offenses.

Are dab pens legal in Iowa?

No. Since dabbable forms of cannabis are illegal, dab pens are drug paraphernalia and the possession of such items is considered a simple misdemeanor under Iowa law. The punishment can be a fine in the amount of $75 to $625 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

This page was last updated October 23, 2020.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on February 1, 2021.