Iowa

(Last update: January 27, 2020)

Medical Marijuana: No (But Extremely Limited in Scope)

Recreational Marijuana: No

Decriminalized: No

In-Home Cultivation: No


Medical Cannabidiol Board recommends removing three percent THC cap

Sadly, Iowa is one of 17 states that still lacks a comprehensive medical marijuana law. Although medical cannabis reform efforts fell short in 2019, they made significant progress, and it is likely the legislature will revisit efforts to expand the state’s current low-THC medical cannabis program in 2020.

Before the legislature convened this year, the Medical Cannabidiol Board — which oversees Iowa’s low-THC medical cannabis program — recommended that the legislature remove the three percent THC potency cap and replace it with a purchasing limit of 4.5 grams of THC over 90 days. This would be a significant improvement, as the THC cap is currently leaving most seriously ill Iowans behind.

It’s time for Iowa to have a comprehensive medical cannabis program.  A 2019 poll found that 78 percent of Iowans want to see the state expand its medical cannabis program.

Gov. Reynolds vetoes medical marijuana expansion bill

In 2019, the Iowa Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have expanded the state's restrictive medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vetoed the legislation at the end of the legislative session, and the legislature did not reconvene to take up an override.

The bill — HF 732 — would have removed the three percent cap on THC in medical marijuana products and instead institute a per-person limit of 25 grams every 90 days. It would have also expanded the patient pool by allowing additional health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to recommend medical marijuana. Finally, it would’ve relaxed a restrictive definition for which pain patients can qualify.

These changes have would significantly improve Iowa’s medical marijuana program, which makes Gov. Reynolds' veto so disappointing.

However, there were some modest improvements to the state's existing low-THC cannabis program in 2019. Corticobasal degeneration and severe, intractable autism with self-injurious behaviors were added the list of qualifying conditions. The Medical Cannabidiol Board also recommended adding PTSD to the list, but that recommendation is awaiting consideration from the Board of Medicine.

Learn more about Iowa’s marijuana laws

Iowa is seriously lagging behind the 26 states (and D.C.) that have stopped jailing and criminalizing their residents for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Under current law, first-offense possession of even a single joint 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. These draconian penalties hit low-income and communities of color the hardest.