Iowa Marijuana Laws

Updated March 2020

While adult-use marijuana is still outlawed in Iowa, penalties for possession are relatively relaxed compared to many other states. Iowa has yet to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana law or decriminalize recreational use, but did pass a low-THC medical cannabis law in 2014. Learn more about Iowa marijuana laws below.

Recreational Marijuana in Iowa

Possession of any amount of recreational marijuana in Iowa is a misdemeanor. First-time offenders can be jailed for 6 months and forced to pay a maximum fine of $1,000. Second and third possession offenses are also charged as misdemeanors, with incarceration of 1 year and 2 years and a maximum fine of $1875 and $6250, respectively. Possession penalties are also levied on individuals who are found with marijuana within 1,000 feet of a public park, elementary school, secondary school, or a school bus.

Offenders who are found to be chronic marijuana abusers may be sent for rehabilitation. If they successfully complete the program, the court can place them on probation.

Sale and distribution of any quantity of marijuana is a felony punishable by jail terms ranging from 5 years to 10 years and fines ranging from $7500 to $100,000. The state of Iowa has minimum mandatory sentences of up to 10 years for individuals who distribute marijuana to minors.

Medical Marijuana in Iowa

Medical use of marijuana is currently illegal in Iowa, punishable by the same penalties as recreational marijuana. The state does have in place, however, a low-THC cannabis program.

State lawmakers in 2014 originally only approved cannabis oil containing up to 3% THC for patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Since then, Iowa’s medical marijuana program has gradually expanded to include more qualifying conditions. In November 2019, the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board approved a recommendation to remove the 3 percent cap on THC and replace it with a purchase limit of 4.5 grams of products containing THC over 90 days. The THC limits’ removal still needs to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor to take effect.

To qualify as a patient for Iowa’s medical program, a patient must be able to prove permanent Iowa residency and provide physician certification.

Iowa’s law allows low-THC medical cannabis for the following qualifying medical conditions:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Autism
  • Cancer (If the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • HIV/AIDS (as defined in Iowa Code, section 141A.1)
  • Intellectual Disability with Aggression (As of 11/1/19, still needs to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine)
  • Multiple Sclerosis with Severe and Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (As of 11/1/19, still needs to be approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine)
  • Seizures
  • Severe, Pediatric Autism with Aggressive or Self-Injurious Behaviors
  • Untreatable Pain
  • 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: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting)

For years, it had remained illegal to manufacture or distribute cannabis oil in the state and federal law prohibits its transportation across state lines, which makes it essentially impossible for Iowans to legally obtain the product. In November 2018, however, lawmakers, advocates, and state officials gathered in Des Moines to celebrate the grand opening of the state’s first medical cannabis manufacturing facility. Qualified patients will be able to buy low-THC cannabis oils, capsules, and topicals at the state’s five licensed dispensaries beginning December 1, 2018.

Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Indiana

Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.

Cultivation of Cannabis in Iowa

The cultivation of marijuana in Iowa is a felony punishable with up to 25 years of imprisonment and up to $1000,000 in fines. Soliciting a minor to cultivate marijuana can lead to a minimum mandatory sentence of up to 10 years.

In May 2019, following the federal legalization of hemp with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law legislation that gives Iowa farmers the option of growing hemp. Under the new Iowa Hemp Act, licensed growers can cultivate the crop on up to 40 acres. The new program is expected to launch in time for the 2020 planting season after the state agriculture department had its hemp production plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in March 2020.

Legal Status of Other U.S. States

Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.


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