Iowa Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS IOWA'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 3/28/22
Possession of cannabis is currently illegal in Iowa, however in 2014 lawmakers enacted a restrictive law to allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess (but not give direct access to) low-THC cannabis oils without facing a conviction. The state of Iowa legalized medical cannabis in the forms of THC oil of 3% or less concentration and cannabidiol (CBD). Licensed medical dispensaries are allowed to sell these products to patients with qualifying health conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDs, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic illnesses. This law has been significantly revised in both 2017 (HB 524) and 2019 (HB 2589) to include a more broad list of qualifying conditions, including chronic pain and PTSD, as well as removing the low-THC limit of cannabis preparations for patients. .
Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program is among one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs, in which only cannabis preparations (no raw flower or smoking) are allowed, patients are limited in the amount of THC they can access every 90-days, and home cultivation is currently still not allowed. Only two manufacturers and five dispensaries are authorized to work in the state and supply low-THC cannabis oils to up to five licensed dispensaries, which sell the oils to qualifying patients. However, as of July 2020, two of the five only dispensaries in the state permanently closed and one manufacturer temporarily closed, limiting access to qualified patients.
In order to enroll in the Medical Cannabidiol Program, patients must be permanent residents of the state of Iowa, obtain a written certification from their primary care provider, and be diagnosed with a qualifying condition listed in the law.
WHAT ARE IOWA'S CANNABIS LAWS?
In 2014, Iowa lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2360, which allowed the possession or use of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy if a patient has a written recommendation by a neurologist. Patients were required to purchase their CBD products from out-of-state.
Later in 2017, Governor Branstad signed into law an expanded Medical Cannabidiol Act, which expanded Senate Bill 2360 to include more health conditions that could benefit from CBD treatment like cancer and multiple sclerosis. This law also allowed in-state manufacturing, distributing, and dispensing which made CBD more accessible to patients who could now purchase their medical products from licensed dispensaries closer to home.
In January 2022, Iowa Democratic senators released the text of a joint resolution to put the question of cannabis legalization before voters on the state’s ballot. In order to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot, the General assembly will need to pass the proposal twice during two separate sessions, meaning the soonest voters will get to vote will be during the November 2024 election.
WHAT IS IOWA'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
As of March 2022, Iowa cannabis applications are currently closed. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) opened applications for in-state CBD business and operational licenses. By November of that year, the first license was awarded to MedPharm, along with five more licenses awarded to other businesses the following year.
In Iowa, IDPH announced a new Request for Proposal for two dispensaries. The letters of Intent to Apply were due by June 29, 2020, by 4pm local time in Iowa. Applications for the two licenses and the application fee were due on July 27, 2020 with the final notice of license award status taking place on September 7, 2020.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN IOWA?
Iowa has a conservative past when it comes to cannabis. Recreational and medical cannabis is still widely illegal in the state of Iowa, with the exception of CBD products containing less than 3.% of THC, with patients restricted to 4.5 g of THC in a 90-day period.
The state has made attempts at decriminalization laws but ultimately all failed amongst lawmakers. In 2014, Iowa lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2360 that allowed patients with disorders that cause seizures, like epilepsy, to seek out CBD treatment with recommendation from their licensed neurologist. At that point, patients were only allowed to purchase such products from out-of-state dispensaries. Parents of children suffering from seizures criticized the law, stating this made it difficult for them to access CBD treatment.
To amend the flaws of Senate Bill 2360, Governor Branstad signed into law an expanded Medical Cannabidiol Act in 2017 which expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions and allowed for CBD businesses to obtain in-state licenses. Originally, CBD products must’ve contained 3% or less THC in order to legally be sold in Iowa dispensaries, however as of 2019, The IDPH raised the legal THC levels to 4.5 mg.
DOES IOWA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
Iowa is currently accepting Hemp License applications for outdoor planting until April 15, 2022 and indoor planting year-round through the Iowa Commercial Hemp Production Program. This program does not legalize the use of CBD for human consumption, extraction, or processing in Iowa. Farmers must have a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to grow hemp and hemp plants must have THC levels of 0.3% or less.
PREPARING FOR THE IOWA CANNABIS MARKET
We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Iowa. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.