Iowa's medical cannabis laws are a bit complicated. But, is CBD legal in Iowa? How do you purchase it? Where? We've got you covered. CBD-based products – oils, lotions, cosmetics, candy, additives – seem to be turning up on store shelves throughout the Corridor …
Is CBD Legal in Iowa?
With mixed marijuana legalization in Iowa, the Hawkeye state’s cannabis laws are currently some of the most limiting and confusing in the country. If you are an Iowa resident looking to utilize the healing properties of cannabis, what should you do? Since cannabis in Iowa is not yet decriminalized, CBD might be the next best step toward better wellness in this midwest state.
So is CBD legal in Iowa? How can you start your cannabis journey in Iowa?
Elevate Holistics is here to dive into the state’s CBD complexities and teach you how to get your hands on CBD in Iowa. Iowa may be a bit behind the times but we’re here to help you get ahead.
What is CBD?
First of all, what is CBD? CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is one of marijuana’s non-psychoactive compounds, meaning that, unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high.
Cannabidiol is known for its therapeutic benefits like pain and inflammation reduction, anxiety and depression relief, and sleep aid among many other perks.
CBD and other cannabis compounds embody extremely diverse and effective healing properties.
So, who should consider CBD? CBD could be a beneficial option for:
- First-time consumers who just want to dip their toes into cannabis
- Those who desire the healing benefits of cannabis without the high
- Patients who want to try holistic healing rather than chemical-based pharmaceuticals
- Patients with any physical or mental ailment that other treatments are failing to improve
How to Get CBD in Iowa
Is CBD legal in Iowa? Yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Medical marijuana in Iowa has mixed legality and unique guidelines limiting THC amounts and what form you can purchase CBD in.
Since CBD oil in Iowa is legal, who can purchase it? Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program allows residents to apply for a “medical cannabidiol registration card.”
The program states that permanent residents at least 18 years of age might qualify for medical Iowa cannabidiol if their doctor certifies they have a “Qualifying Debilitating Medical Condition.”
So, what are these conditions?
What Medical Conditions Qualify for CBD Oil Use in Iowa?
Iowa’s qualifying medical conditions are pretty strict, sometimes even adding conditions to the qualifying conditions.
The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program lists the following as its Qualifying Medical Conditions:
: if the illness or its treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia, or severe wasting.
- Seizures with severe and persistent muscle spasms (as defined in Iowa Code, section 141A.1) (ALS) (PTSD)
- Any terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of under one year: if the illness or its treatment produces severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting
- Severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors
- Severe, intractable autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors
- Corticobasal Degeneration
Iowa CBD laws
With CBD oil legal in Iowa, is marijuana legal? Medical marijuana is technically legal in Iowa but with added difficulties.
It all started in 2014 when Iowa lawmakers passed the Medical Cannabidiol Act. This act legalized CBD products with 3% THC or less to treat patients with intractable epilepsy but made no provision for purchasing it
These Iowa cannabis laws weren’t cutting it. In 2017, Governor Terry Branstad passed House File 524 which added more qualifying conditions, legalized licensed cultivation of medical marijuana in the state, and allowed dispensaries to begin opening in December 2018.
In 2020, House File 2589 added more qualifying conditions and upped the amount of THC allowed in CBD products.
Now, patients are allowed 4.5 grams of THC in their cannabis products every 90 days. CBD Iowa, containing 3% THC or less, comes in oil tinctures, topicals, capsules, suppositories, nebulizable inhaled forms, and vapes.
Smokable cannabis products and edibles are illegal in Iowa.
Iowa marijuana laws state that recreational marijuana is still entirely illegal in the state. Iowa law enforcement will arrest individuals for possessing a small amount of marijuana as little as a joint.
First-offense possession is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine – one of the most severe first-offense penalties in the country.
According to the ACLU of Iowa, 55% of drug arrests in the state are marijuana-related. Cultivation and distribution of marijuana in Iowa could result in a felony.
Driving while under the influence of marijuana could result in a misdemeanor.
Iowa senators have been pushing for cannabis reform in the state but continue to get shut down. Without a citizen initiative process in Iowa, changing Iowa CBD laws would have to pass through the legislature first.
Do You Need a Prescription for CBD Iowa?
Does Iowa cannabidiol have to be prescribed to obtain it? Yes, patients must obtain an Iowa medical marijuana card to be prescribed CBD oil in Iowa.
If a patient has one or more of the state’s qualifying conditions, they are welcome to apply online for a card.
The state fee is $100, but only $25 for Medicaid members and other beneficiaries of government assistance. Minor patients under 18 years of age and any adult patients who need a caregiver must complete a separate caregiver registration application. A $25 caregiver fee applies. All Iowa medical marijuana cards are valid for one year.
And what about the amount of product prescribed? For most people, the 4.5 grams of THC per 90 days purchase limit applies.
There are two exceptions to that rule:
- A healthcare practitioner may indicate more THC per 90-days at the time of certification for any patient certified for a terminal illness.
- If the patient’s original healthcare practitioner certifies them for additional THC after the patient has participated in the program.
For more information, visit our Iowa FAQ cannabis page.
Where to Buy CBD Products in Iowa
So you’re interested in purchasing CBD in Iowa, but where do you go? Residents can find trustworthy CBD oil Iowa at MedPharm Iowa locations, Iowa’s only manufacturer of cannabis products.
Iowans will also find CBD products in local vape shops, hemp stores, and other wellness shops. Most importantly, regardless of where you get your cannabidiol Iowa:
- Make sure that the CBD product has been third-party tested to ensure it’s the real deal. Third-party testing confirms that the product contains what it says it does and that it doesn’t contain any contaminants.
- Look for full or broad-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD means that it contains all of the cannabis plant’s wonderful compounds, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These compounds synergistically work together to promote more extensive healing, known as the entourage effect. Full-spectrum CBD will contain a small amount of THC (0.3% or less), but it won’t get you high. Broad-spectrum CBD contains all cannabis compounds besides THC.
- If you’re a first-time THC consumer, consume cannabis products that contain a higher level of THC with caution. Products with higher levels of THC can provide added therapeutic benefits but might at first induce a bit of anxiety for those that are anxiety-prone.
Iowa Cannabidiol Dispensary
What’s a good Iowa cannabidiol dispensary? The safest Iowa cannabidiol dispensary is partnered with the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program and has five locations across the state.
MedPharm Iowa, recently rebranded as Bud & Mary’s, offers Aliviar brand tinctures, creams, capsules, and vapes.
These cannabis products are available at dispensaries in Sioux City, Waterloo, Council Bluffs, Windsor Heights, and Iowa City. When getting your cannabis products from Bud & Mary’s, you know that your products have been thoroughly third-party tested and contain the healing benefits they claim to boast.
Over-the-counter CBD products outside of Iowa’s five licensed dispensaries have not been FDA-approved.
If you are unable to visit dispensaries yourself, you can apply for the state to pair you with an Iowa cannabis caregiver – someone who picks up and delivers your cannabis products to you.
A medical cannabis caregiver can be someone of your choosing or someone the state assigns.
Another option is to find a credible online CBD retailer. Hemp-derived CBD containing 0.3% THC or less is legal to ship in all 50 states.
Hemp, versus the cannabis Sativa plant, naturally contains lower levels of THC and higher levels of CBD and is federally legal.
Get Your Medical Card With Elevate Holistics
So is CBD legal in Iowa? Yes, but patients must obtain an Iowa medical marijuana card. Luckily, there’s no need to look any further – Elevate Holistics is ready to help you every step of the way to getting your Iowa CBD card.
Elevate Holistics offers a hassle-free, safe way to get your medical marijuana card.
Through our fully online process, you can even book a same-day virtual doctor’s appointment for med card approval.
CBD is illegal — but some Iowa prosecutors not too concerned about enforcement
CBD-based products – oils, lotions, cosmetics, candy, additives – seem to be turning up on store shelves throughout the Corridor and elsewhere in Iowa.
That’s even though using or possessing products that contain cannabidiol – a derivative of marijuana and more commonly known as CBD – remains illegal for the majority of people in Iowa who don’t have a state-issued medical registration card.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill removed restrictions on CBD that is derived from hemp plants, Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said there has been some confusion regarding the legality of CBD products.
‘And that’s why you don’t have uniform enforcement of the CBD products across the state,” he said.
As far as his office goes, Vander Sanden said prosecuting distributors of CBD products or the people who use them is not a high priority.
‘We concentrate our resources on the prosecution the street crimes – especially crimes of violence – and until somebody can show me that these products are harmful, then the prosecution of any technical violations of the law would probably not be a high priority for this office,” Vander Sanden said.
‘What seems to be uncontroverted, is that CBD products can have some therapeutic effect for people who use it and it doesn’t seem to be causing any harm,” he continued.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness concurred, saying her office views prosecuting CBD cases fall pretty low on her office’s list of priorities.
‘It’s all illegal right now,” she said. ‘But I expect that is going to quickly change and soon, and I would much rather see our law enforcement agencies focusing on serious and violent crimes than chasing after something that will likely be legal soon.”
Lyness said she’d venture that local law enforcement agencies are on the same page as she.
‘From what I understand, they have gone around and talked to the businesses that are selling CBD products and reminding them that they’re illegal, kind of giving them a warning,” she said. ‘But I don’t believe they are interested in doing much beyond that.”
In some counties, law enforcement officers have directed shop owners to remove CBD products from their shelves, the Des Moines Register has reported.
In Polk County, an Ankeny business owner was arrested for allegedly selling CBD products without a license from the state. The charge was a first for Polk County, according to the county attorney’s office.
‘The law makes it pretty clear that any product containing cannabidiol is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and is illegal,” Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said in a message to The Gazette. ‘The only exceptions to that classification are FDA-approved medications in Iowa’s medical CBD program. So we’re going to enforce the law until that changes.”
The arrest of Lacie Navin, 33, of Des Moines, came after officers with the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force twice purchased products from her business. Navin faces two counts of controlled substance violation and failure to pay tax on an unlawful substance.
Her arrest was a part of a task force investigation of businesses selling CBD in central Iowa that was initiated after complaints had been filed in multiple counties, said Lt. Heath Osberg, spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
In Cedar Rapids, a few CBD-dedicated shops have opened for business – including Your CBD Store, which is part of a nationwide franchise. The Health Hut, a longtime health and wellness store located in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, has stocked CBD products for about seven years, owner Alicia Beck said.
Many of her customers have found relief through these products, particularly those dealing with issues related to chronic pain and inflammation, Beck said.
‘If they’re looking to enhance their health and be able to live a long, comfortable lifestyle as opposed to living in pain, it’s a nice alternative to prescription medications,” Beck said.
‘We have had great success with that.”
The state expanded its medical marijuana program in December 2018, but Beck said some of her customers have found the program to be inaccessible.
Some of her customers don’t qualify under the program’s requirements, she said. Others find it difficult to drive an hour or more to the state-licensed dispensaries to obtain the medication,
So instead, they seek out her store, she said.
Beck, who has owned Health Hut for five years, said she is not particularly concerned about the arrest of Navin, the Ankeny shop owner. She has never had any interactions with local law enforcement regarding the products she sells in her store, she said, but is open to that conversation.
Iowa law currently defines marijuana as ‘all parts of the plants of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin, including tetrahydrocannabinols,” according to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
That’s important because, as CBD is derived from parts of the cannabis plant that are included in the definition of marijuana, CBD is considered marijuana under Iowa law, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement earlier this year.
Iowa law labels marijuana and its psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC – as a Schedule I controlled substance, making any product containing CBD or THC a controlled substance under federal statute.
The only exception to that law, according to the Attorney General’s Office, comes with the Medical Cannabidiol Act, which permits the manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical grade cannabinoid with a THC level of no more than 3 percent.
Medical cannabidiol, the attorney general said, only can be manufactured by Iowa’s two licensed manufacturers – MedPharm and Iowa Relief – and distributed to individuals with state-issued registration cards at Iowa’s five licensed dispensaries.
But that doesn’t mean Linn County authorities are going to start targeting local CBD sellers, County Attorney Vander Sanden said, adding that prosecuting people selling or using CBD products isn’t worth the taxpayer money it would cost.
‘My legal opinion is that CBD oil that is extracted from hemp is entirely legal, provided it does not contain more than the 03 percent of the psychoactive THC,” he said.
But the difficulty in determining if a CBD product exceeds the legal level of THC is that you can’t tell just by looking at the product – it has to be chemically analyzed in a lab.
‘Before we can charge a distributor with selling illegal CBD products, we would have to have the product tested by our crime lab, and we’re being told that our crime lab cannot test these products to quantify the level of THC in the product,” Vander Sanden said.
‘That means we’d have to send the product to an outside laboratory – and if that’s the case, then it’d be an expensive proposition to investigate the retailers, and it’d be an expensive proposition to prosecute.”
The same would apply for an individual who was caught in possession of CBD products, the county attorney said. Those products still would need to be tested to build a case.
‘It’s just like any other case involving drugs – we have to be able to prove a substance is illegal, and that’s a lot simpler with defined illegal drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine,” Vander Sanden said.
‘When it comes to those substances, we have chemical field tests we can run to prove their identity, but with this CBD it’s an entirely different thing.”
And as the state’s crime labs already are overloaded, Johnson County’s Lyness said she’d rather not waste their time and resources on a product that is not harmful.
‘I would much rather have (the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation) processing sexual assault kits or testing substances that are actually killing people,” she said.
‘And from my understanding, CBD is a beneficial substance that seems to help a lot of people. It’s not dangerous.”
Owner Alicia Beck shows some of the CBD products she has for sale at Health Hut in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
CBD oil products are seen among other health products on the shelves at Health Hut in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Owner Alicia Beck holds a CBD topical cream she has for sale at Health Hut in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
‘We concentrate our resources on the prosecution the street crimes — especially crimes of violence — and until somebody can show me that these products are harmful, then the prosecution of any technical violations of the law would probably not be a high priority for this office,’ says Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
CBD products are ‘all illegal right now,’ Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness says. ‘But I expect that is going to quickly change and soon, and I would much rather see our law enforcement agencies focusing on serious and violent crimes than chasing after something that will likely be legal soon.’ (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)