Medical Marijuana in Iowa
The “Hawkeye State” began its journey into the medical marijuana industry in 1979 when legislators passed a bipartisan bill to allow the medical use of marijuana by people with glaucoma or undergoing treatment for cancer. It wasn’t until 2014 when the Iowa legislature passed its next medical marijuana reform policies, the “Medical Cannabidiol Act.” Under this Act, licensed neurologists along with other healthcare practitioners were permitted to treat patients with intractable epilepsy to use CBD. By 2017, Governor Brandstad enacted HF 524, which further expanded patient access to allow those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, ALS, most terminal illnesses with life expectancy less than one year and untreatable pain to use low-THC cannabis products. In addition, this law allowed the production of low-THC cannabis and cannabis products by creating a framework for growing, manufacturing, and distribution companies (no more than 3% THC in each product). By 2018, five (5) CBD dispensaries were issued licenses allowing the sale of medical cannabis products by December.
Although Iowa continues to expand access to low-THC cannabis products, the state continues to lag behind especially compared to its neighboring states. The State of Iowa has yet to decriminalize small possession of marijuana as it is still punishable up to six (6) months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Further, since Iowa lacks a citizen initiative process, Iowa residents will only see a change of law if the legislature itself passes a law, or if the legislature refers the question to the voters.
In 2020, Governor Reynolds signed a bipartisan bill into law, HF 2589, which removed the original 3% THC cap, however set the new limit to 4.5 grams per patient every ninety (90) days. Unfortunately, in 2020, Iowa residents’ access to medical cannabidiol was further limited as one (1) of the two (2) licensed manufacturers and two (2) of the five (5) licensed dispensaries permanently closed. Although replacements had been made for the dispensaries, Iowa continues to face several shortcomings due to the small amount of licensed businesses, lack of access, and prohibition of marijuana of marijuana in flower form and as edibles.
In 2022, Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), Sen. Janet Petersen (D), and Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott (D) put forth a proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution to allow for an adult-use cannabis program for those twenty-one (21) years and older; however, Senate Judiciary Chair Brad Zaun did not even give the proposal a committee vote.
During the 2023 legislative session, there were numerous bills introduced to expand licensure of medical marijuana dispensaries, expand permitted medical marijuana products under the law, and legalize and regulate an adult-use marijuana program in the state. By the end of the 2023 session, all bills were residing in committee and will not be reviewed until the start of the 2024 legislative session.
Upcoming Applications for Marijuana Business Licenses
With 54% of Iowans in support of the legalization of marijuana in the “Hawkeye State,” there will be an open application process for Marijuana Business Licenses in Iowa in the near future. Now is the time to get started with your comprehensive and strategic business plan! Contact one of our consultants to further discuss your options here.
Last Updated: July 19th, 2023