Iowa Cannabis Law

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A Guide to Iowa Cannabis Law

Cannabis in Iowa is illegal for recreational use if classified as marijuana but consumable hemp products including CBD products are legal for consumers to possess and registered retailers to sell.[1] Possession of even small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime.[2] The state has a medical cannabidiol program for serious medical conditions that allows for the legal possession of products containing 3% or less THC.

Medical Cannabidiol Information for Law Enforcement and Public Safety

  • In May 2017, the Medical Cannabidiol Act was signed into law. It is codified at Iowa Code Chapter 124E and 641 IAC 154. Iowa’s licensed dispensaries began providing medical cannabidiol products to patients on December 1, 2018. Iowa’s medical cannabidiol program authorizes the manufacture and sale of products that contain both CBD and THC. In other words, it is a program that allows for the legal manufacture and sale of medical cannabis products. The Iowa Department of Public Health provides this educational information to assist law enforcement in understanding Iowa’s program and the rights of program stakeholders.

What is the Iowa “Medical Cannabidiol Program?”

  • Iowa’s medical cannabidiol program authorizes the manufacture and sale of products that contain both CBD and THC. In other words, it is a program that allows for the legal manufacture and sale of medical cannabis products. Products may be legally purchased, and possessed by registered Iowa cardholders, and their caregivers. Medical cannabis cardholders in other states are also allowed to possess medical cannabis products in Iowa, provided that the products are in a form authorized by 641 IAC 154.14.

How do I identify a legally registered patient or caregiver?

  • The embedder QR code may be scanned by law enforcement to determine the validity of the card.
  • Law enforcement officials who need to verify registration card validity may call the Bureau of Medical Cannabidiol (BMC) Monday-Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm at (515)-725- 2076

What products can registered patients and caregivers legally possess?

  • As codified in 641 IAC 154.14 Iowa patients or caregivers may possess THC-containing cannabis or marijuana products in the following forms:
    • Vaporizable
    • Oral forms – tablets, capsules, liquids, tinctures and sublingual forms
    • Topical forms – gels, ointments, creams, lotions and transdermal patches
    • Nebulizable inhaled forms
    • Suppositories – rectal and vaginal
  • Products in the forms listed above, are legal for possession by registered Iowa patients and Iowa caregivers, regardless of where the products were manufactured. Individuals who have a valid registration card, or its equivalent, issued under the laws of another state are also allowed to possess products in the forms listed in 641 IAC 154.14, however, out of state card holders are not permitted to purchase products from dispensaries located in Iowa.

What products are illegal for registered patients and caregivers to possess?

  • No flower (loose leaf, “joints,” etc.) or THC-infused edibles (“gummies,” chocolates, etc.) are allowed.

What products can out-of-state patients with out-of-state registration cards possess?

  • Persons with valid, out-of-state medical cannabis or marijuana registration cards may also possess products in the forms listed above.

Is there a limit on the amount of product that a patient can possess?

  • There is not a medical cannabidiol product quantity possession limit for registered cardholders and caregivers.

Where are the medical cannabidiol licensees?

  • Iowa’s manufacturers are located at:
    • MedPharm Iowa – 1953 E. Market St., Des Moines, IA 50317
    • Iowa Cannabis Company – 2727 Scott Blvd, Iowa City, IA 52240
  • Iowa currently has five operational dispensaries, located at the following addresses:
    • MedPharm Iowa – 5700 Sunnybrook Drive, Sioux City, IA 51106
    • MedPharm Iowa – 7239 Apple Valley Drive, Windsor Heights, IA 50324
    • Iowa Cannabis Company – 1955 La Porte Road, Waterloo, IA 50702
    • Iowa Cannabis Company – 3615 9th Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
    • Iowa Cannabis Company – 382 Highway 1 W, Iowa City, IA 52245

Health care practitioner certification — duties.

  1. Prior to a patient’s submission of an application for a medical cannabidiol registration card pursuant to section 124E.4, a health care practitioner shall do all of the following:
    1. Determine, in the health care practitioner’s medical judgment, whether the patient whom the health care practitioner has examined and treated suffers from a debilitating medical condition that qualifies for the use of medical cannabidiol under this chapter, and if so determined, provide the patient with a written certification of that diagnosis.
    1. Provide explanatory information as provided by the department to the patient about the therapeutic use of medical cannabidiol and the possible risks, benefits, and side effects of the proposed treatment.
  2. Subsequently, the health care practitioner shall do the following:
    1. Determine, on an annual basis, if the patient continues to suffer from a debilitating medical condition and, if so, issue the patient a new certification of that diagnosis.
    1. Otherwise comply with all requirements established by the department pursuant to rule.
  3. A health care practitioner may provide, but has no duty to provide, a written certification pursuant to this section.

Medical cannabidiol registration card.

  1. Issuance to patient. Subject to subsection 7, the department may approve the issuance of a medical cannabidiol registration card by the department of transportation to patient who:
    • Is at least eighteen years of age.
    • Is a permanent resident of this state.
    • Submits a written certification to the department signed by the patient’s health care practitioner that the patient is suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
    • Submits an application to the department, on a form created by the department, in consultation with the department of transportation, that contains all of the following:
      • The patient’s full name, Iowa residence address, date of birth, and telephone number.
      • A copy of the patient’s valid photograph identification.
      • Full name, address, and telephone number of the patient’s health care practitioner.
  2. Full name, residence address, date of birth, and telephone number of each primary caregiver of the patient, if any.
    • Any other information required by rule.
  3. Submits a medical cannabidiol registration card fee of one hundred dollars to the department. If the patient attests to receiving social security disability benefits, supplemental security insurance payments, or being enrolled in the medical assistance program, the fee shall be twenty-five dollars.
    • Has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense.
  4. Patient card contents. A medical cannabidiol registration card issued to a patient by the department of transportation pursuant to subsection 1 shall contain, at a minimum, all of the following:
    • The patient’s full name, Iowa residence address, and date of birth.
    • The patient’s photograph.
    • The date of issuance and expiration date of the medical cannabidiol registration card.
    • Any other information required by rule.
  5. Issuance to primary caregiver. For a patient in a primary caregiver’s care, subject to subsection 7, the department may approve the issuance of a medical cannabidiol registration card by the department of transportation to the primary caregiver who:
  6. Submits a written certification to the department signed by the patient’s health care practitioner that the patient in the primary caregiver’s care is suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
    1. Submits an application to the department, on a form created by the department, in consultation with the department of transportation, that contains all of the following:
  7. (1) The primary caregiver’s full name, residence address, date of birth, and telephone number.
  8. (2) The patient’s full name.
  9. (3) A copy of the primary caregiver’s valid photograph identification.
  10. (4) Full name, address, and telephone number of the patient’s health care practitioner.
  11. (5) Any other information required by rule.
  12. Has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense.
    • Submits a medical cannabidiol registration card fee of twenty-five dollars to the department.
  13. Primary caregiver card contents. A medical cannabidiol registration card issued by the department of transportation to a primary caregiver pursuant to subsection 3 shall contain, at a minimum, all of the following:
    • The primary caregiver’s full name, residence address, and date of birth.
    • The primary caregiver’s photograph.
    • The date of issuance and expiration date of the registration card.
    • The medical cannabidiol registration card number of each patient in the primary caregiver’s care. If the patient in the primary caregiver’s care is under the age of eighteen, the full name of the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
    • Any other information required by rule.
  14. Expiration date of card. A medical cannabidiol registration card issued pursuant to this section shall expire one year after the date of issuance and may be renewed.
  15. Card issuance — department of transportation. The department may enter into a chapter 28E agreement with the department of transportation to facilitate the issuance of medical cannabidiol registration cards pursuant to subsections 1 and 3.
  16. Federally approved clinical trials. The department shall not approve the issuance of a medical cannabidiol registration card pursuant to this section for a patient who is enrolled in a federally approved clinical trial for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition with medical cannabidiol.

Medical cannabidiol board — duties.

  1. A medical cannabidiol board is created consisting of eight practitioners representing the fields of neurology, pain management, gastroenterology, oncology, psychiatry, pediatrics, family medicine, and pharmacy, and one representative from law enforcement.
  2. The practitioners shall be licensed in this state and nationally board-certified in their area of specialty and knowledgeable about the use of medical cannabidiol.
    • Applicants for membership on the board shall submit a membership application to the department and the governor shall appoint members from the applicant pool.
    • For purposes of this subsection, “representative from law enforcement” means a regularly employed member of a police force of a city or county, including a sheriff, or of the state patrol, in this state, who is responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the criminal laws of this state.
  3. The medical cannabidiol board shall convene at least twice but no more than four times per year.
  4. The duties of the medical cannabidiol board shall include but not be limited to the following:
    • Accepting and reviewing petitions to add medical conditions, medical treatments, or debilitating diseases to the list of debilitating medical conditions for which the medical use of cannabidiol would be medically beneficial under this chapter.
    • Making recommendations relating to the removal or addition of debilitating medical conditions to the list of allowable debilitating medical conditions for which the medical use of cannabidiol under this chapter would be medically beneficial.
    • Working with the department regarding the requirements for the licensure of medical cannabidiol manufacturers and medical cannabidiol dispensaries, including licensure procedures.
    • Advising the department regarding the location of medical cannabidiol manufacturers and medical cannabidiol dispensaries throughout the state.
    • Making recommendations relating to the form and quantity of allowable medical uses of cannabidiol.
  5. Recommendations made by the medical cannabidiol board pursuant to subsection 3, paragraphs “b” and “e”, shall be made to the board of medicine for consideration, and if approved, shall be adopted by the board of medicine by rule.
  6. On or before January 1 of each year, beginning January 1, 2018, the medical cannabidiol board shall submit a report detailing the activities of the board.
  7. The medical cannabidiol board may recommend a statutory revision to the definition of medical cannabidiol contained in this chapter that increases the tetrahydrocannabinol level to more than three percent, however, any such recommendation shall be submitted to the general assembly during the regular session of the general assembly following such submission. The general assembly shall have the sole authority to revise the definition of medical cannabidiol for purposes of this chapter.

Medical cannabidiol manufacturer licensure.

  1. The department shall issue a request for proposals to select and license by December 1, 2017, up to two medical cannabidiol manufacturers to manufacture and to possess, cultivate, harvest, transport, package, process, or supply medical cannabidiol within this state consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The department shall license new medical cannabidiol manufacturers or relicense the existing medical cannabidiol manufacturers by December 1 of each year.
  2. Information submitted during the application process shall be confidential until a medical cannabidiol manufacturer is licensed by the department unless otherwise protected from disclosure under state or federal law.
  3. As a condition for licensure, a medical cannabidiol manufacturer must agree to begin supplying medical cannabidiol to medical cannabidiol dispensaries in this state no later than December 1, 2018.
  4. The department shall consider the following factors in determining whether to select and license a medical cannabidiol manufacturer:
    • The technical expertise of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer regarding medical cannabidiol.
    • The qualifications of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer’s employees.
    • The long-term financial stability of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer.
    • The ability to provide appropriate security measures on the premises of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer.
    • Whether the medical cannabidiol manufacturer has demonstrated an ability to meet certain medical cannabidiol production needs for medical use regarding the range of recommended dosages for each debilitating medical condition, the range of chemical compositions of any plant of the genus cannabis that will likely be medically beneficial for each of the debilitating medical conditions, and the form of the medical cannabidiol in the manner determined by the department pursuant to rule.
    • The medical cannabidiol manufacturer’s projection of and ongoing assessment of fees on patients with debilitating medical conditions.
  5. The department shall require each medical cannabidiol manufacturer to contract with the state hygienic laboratory at the university of Iowa in Iowa City or an independent medical cannabidiol testing laboratory to perform spot-check testing of the medical cannabidiol produced by the manufacturer as provided in section 124E.7. The department shall require that the laboratory report testing results to the manufacturer in a manner determined by the department pursuant to rule.
  6. Each entity submitting an application for licensure as a medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall pay a nonrefundable application fee of seven thousand five hundred dollars to the department.

Medical cannabidiol manufacturers.

  1. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall contract with the state hygienic laboratory at the university of Iowa in Iowa City or an independent medical cannabidiol testing laboratory to perform spot-check testing of the medical cannabidiol manufactured by the medical cannabidiol manufacturer as to content, contamination, and consistency. The cost of all laboratory testing shall be paid by the medical cannabidiol manufacturer.
  2. The operating documents of a medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall include all of the following:
    • Procedures for the oversight of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer and procedures to ensure accurate recordkeeping.
    • Procedures for the implementation of appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the theft of medical cannabidiol and unauthorized entrance into areas containing medical cannabidiol.
  3. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall implement security requirements, including requirements for protection of each location by a fully operational security alarm system, facility access controls, perimeter intrusion detection systems, and a personnel identification system.
  4. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not share office space with, refer patients to, or have any financial relationship with a health care practitioner.
  5. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not permit any person to consume medical cannabidiol on the property of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer.
  6. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer is subject to reasonable inspection by the department.
  7. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not employ a person who is under eighteen years of age or who has been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense. An employee of a medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall be subject to a background investigation conducted by the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety and a national criminal history background check.
  8. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer owner shall not have been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense and shall be subject to a background investigation conducted by the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety and a national criminal history background check.
  9. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not operate at the same physical location as a medical cannabidiol dispensary.
  10. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not operate in any location, whether for manufacturing, possessing, cultivating, harvesting, transporting, packaging, processing, or supplying, within one thousand feet of a public or private school existing before the date of the medical cannabidiol manufacturer’s licensure by the department.
  11. A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall comply with reasonable restrictions set by the department relating to signage, marketing, display, and advertising of medical cannabidiol.
    • A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall provide a reliable and ongoing supply of medical cannabidiol to medical cannabidiol dispensaries pursuant to this chapter.
    • All manufacturing, cultivating, harvesting, packaging, and processing of medical cannabidiol shall take place in an enclosed, locked facility at a physical address provided to the department during the licensure process.
    • A medical cannabidiol manufacturer shall not manufacture edible medical cannabidiol products.

Medical cannabidiol dispensary licensure.

  1. The department shall issue a request for proposals to select and license by April 1, 2018, up to five medical cannabidiol dispensaries to dispense medical cannabidiol within this state consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The department shall license new medical cannabidiol dispensaries or relicense the existing medical cannabidiol dispensaries by December 1 of each year.
    1. Information submitted during the application process shall be confidential until a medical cannabidiol dispensary is licensed by the department unless otherwise protected from disclosure under state or federal law.
  2. As a condition for licensure, a medical cannabidiol dispensary must agree to begin supplying medical cannabidiol to patients by December 1, 2018.
  3. The department shall consider the following factors in determining whether to select and license a medical cannabidiol dispensary:
    1. The technical expertise of the medical cannabidiol dispensary regarding medical cannabidiol.
    1. The qualifications of the medical cannabidiol dispensary’s employees.
    1. The long-term financial stability of the medical cannabidiol dispensary.
    1. The ability to provide appropriate security measures on the premises of the medical cannabidiol dispensary.
    1. The medical cannabidiol dispensary’s projection and ongoing assessment of fees for the purchase of medical cannabidiol on patients with debilitating medical conditions.
  4. Each entity submitting an application for licensure as a medical cannabidiol dispensary shall pay a nonrefundable application fee of five thousand dollars to the department.

Medical cannabidiol dispensaries.

  1. The medical cannabidiol dispensaries shall be located based on geographical need throughout the state to improve patient access.
    1. A medical cannabidiol dispensary may dispense medical cannabidiol pursuant to the provisions of this chapter but shall not dispense any medical cannabidiol in a form or quantity other than the form or quantity allowed by the department pursuant to rule.
  2. The operating documents of a medical cannabidiol dispensary shall include all of the following:
    1. Procedures for the oversight of the medical cannabidiol dispensary and procedures to ensure accurate recordkeeping.
    1. Procedures for the implementation of appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the theft of medical cannabidiol and unauthorized entrance into areas containing medical cannabidiol.
  3. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall implement security requirements, including requirements for protection by a fully operational security alarm system, facility access controls, perimeter intrusion detection systems, and a personnel identification system.
  4. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall not share office space with, refer patients to, or have any financial relationship with a health care practitioner.
  5. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall not permit any person to consume medical cannabidiol on the property of the medical cannabidiol dispensary.
  6. A medical cannabidiol dispensary is subject to reasonable inspection by the department.
  7. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall not employ a person who is under eighteen years of age or who has been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense. An employee of a medical cannabidiol dispensary shall be subject to a background investigation conducted by the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety and a national criminal history background check.
  8. A medical cannabidiol dispensary owner shall not have been convicted of a disqualifying felony offense and shall be subject to a background investigation conducted by the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety and a national criminal history background check.
  9. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall not operate at the same physical location as a medical cannabidiol manufacturer.
  10. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall not operate in any location within one thousand feet of a public or private school existing before the date of the medical cannabidiol dispensary’s licensure by the department.
  11. A medical cannabidiol dispensary shall comply with reasonable restrictions set by the department relating to signage, marketing, display, and advertising of medical cannabidiol.
  12. Prior to dispensing of any medical cannabidiol, a medical cannabidiol dispensary shall do all of the following:
    1. Verify that the medical cannabidiol dispensary has received a valid medical cannabidiol registration card from a patient or a patient’s primary caregiver, if applicable.
    1. Assign a tracking number to any medical cannabidiol dispensed from the medical cannabidiol dispensary.
    1. Properly package medical cannabidiol in compliance with federal law regarding child resistant packaging and exemptions for packaging for elderly patients, and label medical cannabidiol with a list of all active ingredients and individually identifying information.

Fees

  • Medical cannabidiol registration card fees and medical cannabidiol manufacturer and medical cannabidiol dispensary application and annual fees collected by the department pursuant to this chapter shall be retained by the department, shall be considered repayment receipts as defined in section 8.2, and shall be used for the purpose of regulating medical cannabidiol manufacturers and medical cannabidiol dispensaries, for the cost of salaries for two agents of the division of criminal investigation of the department of public safety to inspect medical cannabidiol manufacturers and medical cannabidiol dispensaries, and for other expenses necessary for the administration of this chapter.

Tax payment required for possession — payment due.

  1. A dealer shall not possess, distribute, or offer to sell a taxable substance unless the tax imposed under this chapter has been paid as evidenced by a stamp, label, or other official indicia permanently affixed to the taxable substance.
  2. Taxes imposed on taxable substances by this chapter are due and payable immediately upon manufacture, production, acquisition, purchase, or possession by a dealer.
  3. If the indicia evidencing the payment of the tax imposed on taxable substances under this chapter have not been affixed, the dealer shall have the indicia permanently affixed on the taxable substance immediately after receiving the taxable substance. A stamp, label, or other official indicia shall be used only once and shall not be used after the date of expiration.
  4. All excise taxes collected under this chapter by a dealer or any individual are deemed to be held in trust for the state of Iowa.

Tax imposed — rate of tax.

An excise tax is imposed on dealers at the following rates:

  1. On each gram of processed marijuana, or each portion of a gram, five dollars.
  2. On each gram or portion of a gram of any taxable substance, other than marijuana, sold by weight, two hundred fifty dollars.
  3. On each unprocessed marijuana plant, seven hundred fifty dollars.
  4. On each ten dosage units of any taxable substance, other than unprocessed marijuana plants, that is not sold by weight, or portion thereof, four hundred dollars.

Price of stamps, labels, or other indicia.

  • Stamps, labels, or other official indicia to be affixed to a taxable substance indicating the payment of the excise tax shall be obtained and purchased from the department. The dealer shall pay the entire excise tax listed in section 453B.7 at the time of purchase, except as provided in section 453B.13, and receive stamps, labels, or other official indicia for the amount paid. However, the minimum purchase price to be paid for any stamps, labels, or indicia shall be two hundred fifteen dollars.

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