Iowa Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana is currently legal in the state of Iowa. Once you register with the state as a medical marijuana patient, you can purchase capsules, tinctures, lotions, and other cannabis products without having to worry about legal repercussions.

However, smoking marijuana remains illegal in Iowa, even if you have a medical cannabis card. Recreational marijuana is also illegal statewide.

Licensed patients may legally obtain up to 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days. In rare cases, exceptions are made when necessary to effectively treat someone's condition.

If you are caught with recreational marijuana or medical marijuana that you didn’t obtain with an MMJ card, the legal penalties are as follows:

  • First-time offenders may receive a misdemeanor conviction, up to six months of jail time, and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Repeat offenders face up to two years of jail time and a fine of up to $6,250
  • Repeated offenses may incur referrals to drug treatment programs
  • Simply possessing paraphernalia can lead to misdemeanor convictions, entailing up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine

Cultivation and distribution are felony offenses. In those cases, sentencing is determined according to the weight of marijuana, starting at five years in jail and a $7,500 fine for less than 50 kilograms.

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Iowa Medical Marijuana Law History

Iowa initially outlawed marijuana in 1923 amid national calls for prohibition. Then, starting in the 1970s, there were multiple failed attempts to decriminalize the drug.

Fortunately, a medical precedent was set from 1979 to 1981, as Iowa's administrative rules allowed medical use of marijuana at therapeutic research centers.

The next major development transpired in 2014, when the Medical Cannabidiol Act was passed. Also known as SB 2360, this bill legalized prescriptions of CBD oil containing less than 3% THC, but only for patients with intractable epilepsy. Despite legalizing the sale of medical marijuana, cannabis products remained difficult to purchase due to conflicting legislation regarding their production and transportation.

More amendments were passed in 2017 to expand the range of qualifying conditions. As a result of these amendments, patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, and untreatable pain became eligible for marijuana treatment. Additionally, they legalized the cultivation of medical marijuana in Iowa, opening the way for sanctioned dispensaries to open in 2018.

More recently, Iowa‘s state government passed several amendments in 2020 to loosen possession restrictions. Now patients can purchase up to 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days. Exceptions can be made for the terminally ill or for those whose conditions require more aggressive treatment.

Marijuana Possession Laws in Iowa

Although Iowa's Medical Cannabidiol Program has legalized THC for medical patients, it still enforces strict legal standards. For example, only prepared cannabis products are legal in Iowa, meaning raw flower is still illegal.

In addition, Iowa lawmakers have only authorized two licensed dispensaries, and home cultivation is prohibited.

Under Iowa law, possession of Iowa medical cannabidiol is legal if the patient in question has a valid medical marijuana card. To acquire a card, you must have a qualifying condition that’s been diagnosed by a physician. Iowa’s qualifying medical conditions include the following:

  • Cancer
  • Cachexia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Any terminal illness
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Severe intractable autism with aggressive behaviors
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Iowa Public Consumption Laws

Promoting a gathering with the intent to sell marijuana can result in a misdemeanor conviction. This would incur up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,875.

If you sell marijuana near a park or school you could receive a felony conviction that would entail a mandatory 10-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $100,000.

Public consumption of a controlled substance is referred to as "simulated intoxication." Although it is only a simple misdemeanor, added penalties can be tacked on for possession. Furthermore, medical marijuana may not be smoked in Iowa, regardless of whether you’re in a public or private space.

Iowa Cannabis DUI Laws

Driving under the influence is against the law, even in states like Iowa where medical marijuana consumption is legal. Drivers in Iowa have implied consent to withdraw blood, breath, or urine for a chemical test.

If pulled over, a driver may assert their right to legal counsel before submitting to the test. However, refusing a test can get your license revoked for a minimum period of 90 days.

Penalties for driving under the influence of THC are serious:

  • First time offenders can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a $1,250 fine
  • Second-time offenders can receive up to two years in jail, up to a $6,250 fine, and a one-year license suspension
  • Third-time offenses are Class-D felonies and can result in up to five years in jail

Applying for A Iowa Medical Marijuana Card?

Getting an Iowa medical card may seem confusing, but it is actually quite simple.

First, you must download the Health Care Practitioner Certification Form. Then you must schedule an appointment with a physician and bring the form with you so they can fill it out. If you aren't sure how to find a medical marijuana doctor, the Sanctuary can refer you to one near you.

After your physician completes the form, you can upload it online at the Iowa Department of Public Health's website. Make sure to attach a copy of your driver's license and pay the $100 application fee.

On their website, you‘ll need to click the "Online Patient Registration" button. Then fill out all the information, upload the required documents, and click submit.

Next, an attestation statement will appear, and you must enter the same email you provided as part of your application. Check the verification box to finalize your electronic signature, then hit “Continue.“

If you are approved, a temporary card will be sent to your email. A hard copy will arrive in the mail shortly thereafter.


No--recreational marijuana is illegal in the state of Iowa. Smokable marijuana is also illegal, even if you have a marijuana registration card.

Patients and caregivers can only possess non-smokable medical marijuana, such as capsules, tinctures, topical creams, concentrates, cannabis oils, or lotions.

Raw flower is illegal to possess, even for legal card carriers. Currently, only processed cannabis is legal and only for medical cardholders.

Card-carrying patients may obtain up to 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days. However, you can receive an exemption from that rule if a physician determines that that amount is insufficient for your treatment.

Out-of-state patients who are registered with a cannabidiol program in their home state may possess and consume cannabis in Iowa. However, they cannot purchase it in Iowa. Although the law allows Iowa patients to register and obtain CBD oil in Minnesota, Minnesota's laws do not permit it.

Always be sure to research other state’s medical marijuana laws before traveling. And remember that transporting marijuana across state lines is still illegal since the federal government hasn’t legalized medical marijuana.

Previous felony convictions prohibit Iowans from participating in Iowa's medical marijuana program. Additionally, felony convictions prohibit people from working at either of the state's two CBD manufacturers.