Legislation History

The Iowa Legislature passed SF 2360, the “Medical Cannabidiol Act,” in 2014, which enabled licensed neurologists to certify patients with intractable epilepsy to use cannabidiol (CBD) products with three (3) percent or less THC content. The act decriminalized the possession of cannabis oil used only in the treatment of chronic epilepsy. The 2017 Medical Cannabidiol Act signed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad added qualifying conditions and adjusted the legal amount of THC in CBD products to three (3) percent. Cannabis is regulated by the Office of Medical Cannabidiol within the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).


In 2018, committees in the Iowa Legislature considered amendments to the Medical Cannabidiol Act but did not adopt any changes.


The Iowa Department of Public Health announced in March 2018 it would allow medical marijuana sales in five Iowa communities: Council Bluffs; Sioux City; Davenport; Waterloo; and Windsor Heights.


MedPharm Iowa, the state’s only licensed manufacturer, was offered licenses for Sioux City and Windsor Heights. Have a Heart Compassion Care was authorized for Council Bluffs and Davenport. Iowa Cannabis Company would operate in Waterloo. MedPharm Iowa in September said the company’s facility in Des Moines will be ready to deliver medical marijuana products in December 2018, which would make it the first operable dispensary in the state.


Qualifying patients must obtain a state registry ID card to receive legal protection, and they may designate a caregiver to assist them. The state began issuing registration ID cards to qualifying patients in 2015, but patients have no ability to purchase or cultivate cannabis in the state.


Marijuana for recreational use is illegal. It is considered a Schedule I substance in Iowa, with penalties starting at a $1,000 fine and six (6) months in jail on a misdemeanor charge for possessing any amount for recreational purposes. Iowa classifies marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol separately as hallucinogenic substances in Schedule I of the Iowa Controlled Substances Schedule. Flower and all tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) derivatives are defined as marijuana.


Patients or caregivers must submit an application for medical CBD to the Office of Medical Cannabidiol within the IDPH. Applicants then must obtain a registration card through the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). Patients may possess up to 32 fluid ounces, or about 907 grams, of medical CBD. Each caregiver may possess up to 32 ounces, or about 907 grams, of medical CBD per patient.


MedPharm Iowa in October 2018 revealed the first legal medical marijuana products that will be available to Iowans. They include capsules, creams, and drops. These products contain varying amounts of CBD and THC and would range in price from $30 to $130.


Allowable medical cannabis in Iowa includes:

  • Oral forms
    • Tablets
    • Capsules
    • Liquids
    • Tinctures
    • Sublingual forms
  • Topical forms
    • Gels
    • Ointments
    • Creams
    • Lotions
    • Transdermal patches
  • Nebulized inhaled forms
  • Rectal and vaginal suppositories

Where is it Safe to Purchase and Consume?

Dispensaries are set to open beginning December 1, 2018. Planned locations include:

  • Council Bluffs: Have A Heart Compassionate Care at 3615 9th Ave.
  • Davenport: Have A Heart Compassionate Care at 2222 E. 53rd Street
  • Sioux City: MedPharm Iowa at 5700 Sunnybrook Dr.
  • Waterloo: Iowa Cannabis Co. at 1955 La Porte Road
  • Windsor Heights: MedPharm Iowa at 7229 Apple Valley Dr.

When allowable, cannabis may be consumed in by medical marijuana patients in a private residence.

How Old Do I Need
to Be to Consume?
Not specified
Possession Limit
for Flower
Possession Limit
for Concentrates

Possession and Cultivation Limits

Patients may possess up to 32 fluid ounces of medical cannabidiol, while each caregiver may possess up to 32 fluid ounces of medical cannabidiol per patient. Cultivation is not allowed. 

Medical Marijuana 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)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Untreatable pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Any 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;
  • Parkinson’s disease; and
  • Untreatable pain.

Application Process

Patients or caregivers must file an application with the IDPH for a medical CBD registration card. If approved, the department will notify the Iowa DOT and applicants can obtain the card at an Iowa driver’s license issuance site. Applicants must bring a current driver’s license or identification card for proof of identity. There is no charge for the card.

Lab Testing

State law mandates that laboratories must establish and implement test methods and corresponding standard operating procedures for the analyses of cannabinoids, residual solvents and processing chemicals, pesticides, microbiological impurities, and metals. A laboratory must be able to demonstrate that its Limit of Quantitation is below any action level established by the department. A laboratory shall, at a minimum, test for and report measurements for the following cannabinoid analytes: (1) THC; (2) THCA; (3) CBD; (4) CBDA; (5) CBG; and (6) CBN.

This page was last updated November 8, 2018.