Is CBD Oil Legal in Iowa?

  • Purchase and possession of cannabidiol or CBD oil products are illegal in Iowa.
  • Although the US Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, state law still classifies CBD as a controlled substance(1).
  • The 2018 Farm Bill redefined hemp and CBD products and removed them from the list of controlled substances(2).
  • Under Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program, only qualified Iowans may become medical CBD patients(3).

Iowa state law still classifies CBD under Schedule I controlled substances(4). Thus, such products are illegal until the federal government approves Iowa’s hemp plan.

Attorney General Thomas Miller issued the statement on hemp plants and CBD products in May 2020, clarifying to the public that CBD is illegal under Iowa law(5).

Historically, the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act defined Schedule I drugs as substances with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use(6).

The law included hemp, marijuana, and other cannabis plant varieties.

The 2018 Farm Bill redefined industrial hemp to remove it from the category and allowed its growth, cultivation, and manufacture(7).

The revised definition of hemp made hemp-derived CBD products legal under federal laws, as long as the products contained less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis(8).

The Farm Bill also tasked the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with regulating the labeling of CBD products.

Although such federal laws exist, the legality of using hemp products in Iowa remains limited to qualified citizens.

Iowa CBD Laws

The Iowa legislature passed Senate File (SF) 2360 or the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act in 2014(9).

The law allowed Iowans with intractable epilepsy to use CBD products with a THC content of less than 0.3%.

Although the act existed, residents had no way to purchase CBD products within the state of Iowa.

House File 524

The then Gov. Terry Branstad signed HF 524 or a revised version of the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act in 2017 to authorize the use of medical cannabis(10).

This law assigned the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) with developing a framework to regulate the manufacture and sale of CBD.

The law also granted the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) the authority to issue a medical cannabidiol registration card to qualified patients.

Patients with a medical cannabidiol registration card may purchase CBD products legally from licensed dispensaries in Iowa.

Iowa Hemp Act (SF 599)

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File (SF) 599 or the Iowa Hemp Act in May 2019(11).

Through this law, the current governor assigned the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to draft an industrial hemp program.

By approving the draft, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted the IDALS the power to oversee hemp and CBD product regulation within the state.

House File 2589

Later on, lawmakers signed more amendments to Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Program through HF 2589(12).

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law on June 29, 2020, which took effect on July 1, 2020.

This law removed the 0.3% THC limit on products and replaced it with a 4.50g THC purchase limit per 90 days.

The only exceptions to this amendment were terminally ill patients and those with healthcare practitioners that certified them for additional THC use upon joining the program.

Other modifications included the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the conditions.

This law also redefined the scope of medical conditions that CBD was used for, from “untreatable pain” to “chronic pain.”

HF 2589 also shifted the responsibility of issuing registration cards to the IDPH instead of the DOT.

Licensing Requirements

Farmers and growers can apply for an Iowa hemp license to grow and cultivate hemp plants within the state through the IDALS Hemp Law(13).

It is important to note that this commercial hemp production program does not legalize CBD consumption.

All individuals associated with the hemp industry must submit their fingerprints upon applying for a hemp license.

Associated individuals include:

  • Those with at least 5% or more legal or equitable interest in hemp crops
  • Those applying as a member of a business entity
  • Key participants in an executive corporate entity
  • An applicant appointed by the president or chancellor of an institution governed by the state board of regents
  • An individual acting as the authorized representative for the hemp licensee

The IDALS also collects license application fees once an individual submits their hemp license application.

Acres License Fee Base Inspection Fee
0 to 5 $500 plus $5 per acre $1,000
5.1 to 10 $750 plus $5 per acre $1,000
10.1 to 40 $1,000 plus $5 per acre $1,000

More information on the application process is available at the Iowa Department of Agriculture website.

Testing Requirements

At the state level, laboratories must establish independent test methods and implement standard operating procedures for testing CBD products for cannabinoids, microbials, residual solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides(14).

Based on Iowa’s Hemp Law, apart from standard nonrefundable sampling fees, a hemp licensee must provide a pre-harvest notification to the IDALS through a published form at least 30 days before harvesting(15).

Upon receipt of the pre-harvest notice, the IDALS schedule a sampling appointment with the licensee.

The licensee or an authorized representative then accompanies the IDALS inspector at the crop site to produce official samples. The inspector collects samples based on the following table(16):

Number of Acres Number of Plants Sampled Number of Acres Number of Plants Sampled Number of Acres Number of Plants Sampled Number of Acres Number of Plants Sampled
1 10 11 11 21 20 31 29
2 10 12 12 22 21 32 29
3 10 13 13 23 22 33 30
4 10 14 14 24 23 34 31
5 10 15 15 25 24 35 32
6 10 16 16 26 24 36 33
7 10 17 17 27 25 37 34
8 10 18 18 28 26 38 34
9 10 19 18 29 27 39 35
10 10 20 19 30 28 40 36

*If necessary for obtaining adequate samples, the IDALS inspector may take more than the minimum cuttings listed in the table.

More information on official hemp harvest sampling, testing, and timing is available at the Iowa Department of Agriculture website.

Buying CBD Legally

MedPharm Iowa is the only licensed CBD manufacturer within the state, per the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program(17).

How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy

When choosing the best CBD products to buy in Iowa, customers should consider if the shops they plan to purchase from are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). BBB gathers consumer reports and reviews on various businesses and only accredits credible entities(18).

As of November 2020, only two CBD oil stores in Iowa are listed on the BBB site, both of which are not accredited by the BBB(19):

  • 50 Shades of Green
    Council Bluffs, IA
    Phone: (712) 326-1850
  • Your CBD Store
    Davenport, IA
    Phone: (563) 676-1122

CBD oil comes in various forms. Standard CBD products include oil tinctures, CBD gummies, pills or capsules, topicals, and vape products.

The acceptable forms of medical CBD in Iowa are any of the following(20):

  • Oral forms – tablets, capsules, liquids, tinctures, and sublingual forms
  • Topical forms – gels, ointments, creams, lotions, and transdermal patches
  • Nebulizable inhaled forms
  • Suppositories – rectal and vaginal
  • Vaporization

Hemp quality is an important factor to consider in choosing CBD products since most of them are hemp-derived.

Individuals purchasing CBD products from licensed distributors in Iowa must look for the certificate of analysis (COA).

The COA is a document that third-party labs issue a CBD company to ensure that its products meet quality standards.

A COA contains a CBD product’s cannabinoid profile and test results to see if they contain pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals, and residual solvents.

Where to Buy CBD Products Legally

Registered patients or their proxies may purchase CBD products in person from one of three licensed dispensaries in the state:

MedPharm Iowa

  • Sioux City, IA
  • Windsor Heights, IA

Iowa Cannabis Company

  • Waterloo, IA

These dispensaries have lists of products on their websites. Registered patients may contact the nearest location to schedule appointments for making purchases.

How to Read CBD Labels and Packaging

Medical CBD products in Iowa must meet the state’s extensive labeling requirements(21).

Per Iowa state regulations, CBD product labels must list the following details:

  • Manufacturer’s name and address
  • Primary active ingredients
  • Directions for use
  • The recommended amount and the maximum amount by age and weight
  • Expiration date
  • Storage instructions

Customers should seek CBD brands that comply with these labeling requirements to ensure that they are purchasing from a reliable source.

Some CBD brands include scannable QR codes on their products so customers can compare the labels with actual lab results.

Understanding CBD

What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa plants, particularly hemp.

The three types of CBD are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates.

Full-spectrum CBD contains all terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, and naturally occurring cannabinoids within the hemp plant.

Broad-spectrum CBD contains almost the same components as full-spectrum CBD, except THC.

Meanwhile, CBD isolates only contain cannabidiol after chemically separating the other components of the hemp plant.

What Is the Difference Between Hemp- and Marijuana-Derived CBD?

Both hemp and marijuana plants contain CBD.

CBD is more abundant in hemp plants, while THC is more abundant in marijuana plants.

Hemp-derived CBD has less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis and is federally legal.

Marijuana-derived CBD contains more than that THC amount, making such products illegal.

What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

Several studies have looked at the purported benefits of CBD oil.

Researchers observed that CBD has potential therapeutic benefits for Parkinson’s disease(22), Crohn’s disease(23), and multiple sclerosis(24).

Still, the US FDA has only one approved CBD treatment for epilepsy called Epidiolex(25).

Does CBD Oil Have Side Effects?

CBD has a good safety profile, according to the World Health Organization(26). However, it may have potential adverse effects, including the following(27):

  • Liver damage
  • Loss of appetite and gastrointestinal problems
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Potential drug interactions
  • Changes in alertness
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation at the federal level. This law redefined hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC content.

Individual states have their interpretation of this law while adhering to FDA standards.

Retailers cannot market CBD as medication or dietary supplements, per FDA regulation.

Misdemeanors and failure to comply with federal law enforcement may result in corresponding fines.

Conclusion

Although the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized the cultivation of hemp in all 50 states at the federal level, CBD is still illegal in Iowa.

Iowans may only purchase medical CBD from licensed dispensaries within the state.

*The information shared in this article was based on findings retrieved on November 11, 2020. The legality and regulations for CBD may change without notice.


  1. Attorney General’s statement on hemp and CBD products. Iowa Department of Justice – Office of the Attorney General. Retrieved from https://pharmacy.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2019/07/hemp_statement_a8aff8f160a43.pdf
  2. Farm Bill. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
  3. Medical Cannabidiol Information for Patients and Caregivers. Iowa Department of Public Health. Retrieved from https://idph.iowa.gov/omc/For-Patients-and-Caregivers
  4. Attorney General’s statement on hemp and CBD products. Op cit
  5. Ibid
  6. Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. FindLaw. 2019 February 4. Retrieved from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/comprehensive-drug-abuse-prevention-and-control-act-of-1970.html
  7. Farm Bill. Op cit
  8. Ibid
  9. SF 2360. The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/LGE/85/SF2360.pdf
  10. House File 524. The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=87&ba=HF524
  11. Senate File 599. The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=%24selectedGa.generalAssemblyID&ba=SF599
  12. House File 2589. The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=HF2589
  13. Iowa’s Hemp Law. Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Retrieved from https://iowaagriculture.gov/hemp
  14. Laboratory Testing Requirements & Acceptance Criteria. Office of Medical Cannabidiol, Iowa Department of Public Health. Retrieved from https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/234/Files/v4_1OMC%20Lab%20Acceptance%20Criteria.pdf
  15. Iowa’s Hemp Law. Op cit
  16. Hemp Harvest Sampling, Testing & Timing. Iowa Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://iowaagriculture.gov/sites/default/files/2020/Hemp/Permalink%20PDF/Hemp%20in%20Iowa%20-%20HEMP%20HARVEST%20SAMPLING%2C%20TESTING%20AND%20TIMING.pdf
  17. Medical Cannabidiol Information for Patients and Caregivers. Op cit
  18. Mission and Vision. Better Business Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/mission-and-vision
  19. Category: CBD Oil near IA, USA. Better Business Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/search?filter_state=IA&find_country=USA&find_entity=81000-800&find_id=81000-800&find_text=CBD%20Oil&find_type=Category&page=1&sort=Distance&touched=1
  20. Medical Cannabidiol Information for Patients and Caregivers. Op cit
  21. 641—154.21(124E) Packaging and labeling. The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/rule/01-31-2018.641.154.21.pdf
  22. Kim, S. H., Yang, J. W., Kim, K. H., Kim, J. U., & Yook, T. H. (2019). A Review on Studies of Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease – Focusing on CBD, THC. Journal of pharmacopuncture, 22(4), 225–230. https://doi.org/10.3831/KPI.2019.22.030
  23. Picardo, S., Kaplan, G. G., Sharkey, K. A., & Seow, C. H. (2019). Insights into the role of cannabis in the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 12, 1756284819870977. https://doi.org/10.1177/1756284819870977
  24. Rudroff, T., & Sosnoff, J. (2018). Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 183. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2018.00183
  25. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. National Academies Press.
  26. World Health Organization (WHO). (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  27. Machado Bergamaschi, M., Helena Costa Queiroz, R., Waldo Zuardi, A., & Crippa, A. S. (2011). Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Current drug safety, 6(4), 237-249.

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