CONSULTATION FEE RANGE
MMJ PURCHASING LIMITS
- 4.5 GRAMS OF THC PER 90 DAYS
MINIMUM AGE LIMIT
The headline “medical marijuana in Iowa is now legal” is sadly extremely misleading. In reality, legislation in Iowa is restrictive to the point where it doesn’t have an MMJ program at all. There is a similar process in getting a medical marijuana card as in other states, but you don’t get the same product.
The state of Iowa doesn’t even include the word “marijuana” in its legal applications. Instead, it refers to the program as “Medical Cannabidiol.” Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a non-intoxicating substance derived from hemp that provides medical benefits without getting users high.
In this article, we explain everything that you need to know about medical marijuana in Iowa. This includes how to qualify, where you can get it, and the application process.
Iowa Medical Marijuana Laws
Marijuana is not decriminalized in Iowa, and the penalties are severe. You could spend up to six months in jail if found with a gram of weed. Furthermore, a second offense could lead to 12 months in prison, while a third offense increases the prison term to two years.
The distribution or cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a felony with a potential prison term of five years the penalty.
Unfortunately, Iowa is among the worst states in the nation regarding racial disparity in marijuana arrests. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), black Iowans are over seven times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than their white counterparts. Furthermore, they are 11 times more likely to be sent to prison for marijuana crimes than white Iowans.
Ultimately, if you have a medical condition and want to use weed in Iowa, you must apply for an MMJ card to give yourself legal protection.
How to Get a Iowa Medical Marijuana Card
Although the program itself is restrictive, it isn’t difficult to apply. However, please note that doctors are not required to submit a recommendation on their patient’s behalf. This is the case even if you are diagnosed with a qualifying condition. You can only apply if you are aged 18+.
Doctors are not required to submit a recommendation on their patient’s behalf, even if they are diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
Step 1 – Schedule a Consultation with an IA Healthcare Provider
Once you find a willing clinic, you should download and print the Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form from the state’s official website.
Next, visit your doctor or another licensed physician in Iowa. Ask them to fill out and submit the form on your behalf. During the consultation, the physician will ask questions about your condition. Make sure you have your medical records in order.
Step 2 – Sign up for an Iowa State Government Account
Once you receive certification, you must complete the patient registration form. If approved (you will be notified via email), go to an Iowa driver’s license station (DMV) to get your ID card printed out.
In summation, your application must include the following:
- A Healthcare Practitioner Certification signed by a licensed doctor
- A completed Adult Patient Application
- A copy of your photo I.D. You can use a valid Iowa driver’s license or a valid Iowa non-operator’s ID card
- Full payment
Step 3 – Visit a Dispensary
Initially, you had to mail the application to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). However, you can now apply online, which is a much faster process. Once you receive your digital MMJ card, you can visit a licensed dispensary.
Who Can Apply for an Iowa Medical Marijuana Card?
To apply for a medical marijuana card in IA, you must be a state resident who is 18+ and has one of the qualifying medical conditions.
Cost of MMJ Card in IA
The medical marijuana card cost in IA includes a steep $100 application fee. However, certain applicants are eligible for a reduced fee of $25. You can apply for this discount if you can provide a copy of one of the following documents:
- Social Security Disability Benefit Notice (SSDI)
- Proof of receipt of Supplemental Security Income Payment (SSI)
- Iowa Medicaid Member Card
- Hawk-I member card
The OMC will send you a notification email 60 days before your card expires.
IA MMJ Card Qualifying Conditions
Here is a list of the current IA medical marijuana card qualifying conditions:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic, untreatable pain
- Ulcerative colitis
- Severe, intractable autism (adults and children) with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors
- Corticobasal degeneration
- Terminal illness (that produces severe or chronic pain, nausea, or severe wasting) with a probable life expectancy of under a year
How Long Does It Take to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in IA?
If you can get certified using telemedicine and complete your application online, you could receive a digital card in a matter of hours. However, if applying via standard mail, it could take up to two weeks.
How to Renew My Iowa Medical Card?
Your card is valid for a year. Patients will receive an email 60 days before their card expires. When renewing, patients must visit their physician to have their condition recertified. Then they have to complete the same forms as before and submit payment.
Other Information on the IA Medical Marijuana License Process
Here is some further information on the MMJ Program in Iowa.
What Types of Cannabis Can I Purchase in IA?
Smoking weed is illegal, so Iowa MMJ patients cannot buy the traditional flower form of marijuana. Instead, they can get the following:
- Oral forms such as cannabis tinctures, pills/capsules, and liquids
- Topical lotions, gels, ointments, creams, and transdermal patches
- Nebulizers (inhalers)
- Concentrates and other products one can vaporize
However, it is now possible to consume THC in Iowa without a medical marijuana card. In June 2023, a company called Climbing Kites announced that it had started selling cannabis-infused sparkling water with up to 5mg of THC per can. The organization offers home delivery to customers.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in IA Online
Several companies now allow MMJ patients to schedule an online consultation with a doctor. For instance, Veriheal has expanded its services to include Iowa. It helps you find a physician, and you could receive certification after a 10–15-minute consultation. Veriheal charges $199 for its service, and you still have to pay the registration fee. However, the company offers a full money-back guarantee if you’re not approved.
Can I Register My Child for Medical Marijuana in IA?
Minors wishing to participate in the program must have an adult caregiver. No patient application is needed, but they must provide a signed healthcare practitioner form alongside the caregiver form. There is no application fee for minors, but the caregiver application fee of $25 still applies.
Where Can I Purchase MMJ in Iowa?
There are five licensed dispensaries in Iowa at present:
- Bud and Mary’s Dispensary-MedPharm in Sioux City
- Bud and Mary’s Dispensary-MedPharm in Windsor Heights
- Iowa Cannabis Company West in Council Bluffs
- Iowa Cannabis Company in Waterloo
- Iowa Cannabis Company East in Iowa City
There are calls to increase the maximum number of dispensaries in Iowa, although this is unlikely to happen for some time.
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill, House File 2589, in June 2020 that placed an official cap on THC consumption. It replaced the original 3% THC limit. Iowa MMJ patients can now consume 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days.
You can get more if your health care provider certifies that you need extra to treat your condition. There is also an exception for patients with terminal conditions with a life expectancy of under 12 months.
Can You Grow Marijuana in Iowa with a Medical Marijuana Card?
No. It is illegal to grow marijuana, even with an MMJ card.
Though the law suggests that CBD oil is legal, there is no indication that cultivating low-THC hemp at home is allowed. Iowa does permit industrial hemp cultivation with a maximum THC content of 0.3%. However, this process requires specific licensing.
Where Can I Use My MMJ?
Iowans must use their medicine in a private residence.
Can I Take My MMJ to a Different State?
No. Iowa does not recognize the MMJ programs of other states and does not have reciprocity. However, numerous states accept valid Iowa medical marijuana cards, and patients can avail of higher purchasing limits.
What Are the Caregiver Rules?
Iowa MMJ patients can choose a caregiver aged 18+, and they must complete a separate caregiver’s application form. There is a $25 caregiver fee.
What if I Lose My Medical Card in Iowa?
You need to contact the IDPH if you lose your MMJ card.
When Did Medical Marijuana in Iowa Become Legal?
Technically, what’s available in Iowa can hardly be deemed an MMJ program. Instead, residents have something highly restrictive, although it is better than nothing.
House File 524, an Act establishing rules and regulations on “Medical Cannabidiol,” was proposed in 2014. It didn’t progress before a specific deadline and was subsequently rejected. In the same year, Senate Bill 2360 did make it into law.
Known as the Medical Cannabidiol Act, Senate Bill 2360 allowed CBD oil with a neurologist’s recommendation. It was also only available to children with intractable epilepsy. Furthermore, it contained no provision for legally obtaining the cannabinoid. However, Governor Terry Branstad signed an expanded version of the act in May 2017. It increased the number of qualifying conditions.
Republican lawmakers within the state are opposed to expanding the existing program or legalizing adult-use weed.
It took the state nearly a year to organize and prepare for the production and sale of low-THC products. In March 2018, it announced that five licensed dispensaries would sell cannabis.
In February 2023, Democrats in the Iowa House of Representatives publicly announced the introduction of a bill to legalize marijuana in the state. If passed, the bill would have legalized cannabis products for adults aged 21+, with the maximum possession limit set at 500mg of THC.
However, the bill had no chance of succeeding. The Democrats knew it, so they didn’t introduce it until the week before bills must be passed at the subcommittee and committee level.
Another bill to legalize recreational marijuana was introduced in January 2023, and it was also destined for failure.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Des Moines
If you live in Des Moines, there should be a reasonable number of cannabis-friendly physicians. Also, the Bud and Mary’s location at Windsor Heights is on the city’s outskirts, a ten-minute drive from the Science Center of Iowa.
MMJ Card for Veterans in IA
PTSD and chronic pain are among the qualifying conditions, which means many veterans may be eligible for MMJ in Iowa.
Final Thoughts on Getting an Iowa Medical Marijuana Card
Calling Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Act a medical marijuana program is extremely generous. In reality, it remains one of the most restrictive in the nation, although companies like Veriheal have made it easier to find an MMJ-friendly doctor.
Nonetheless, patients can’t smoke marijuana or purchase flower. Also, the 4.5 grams of THC per 90 days limit is rather strict. For reference, if Iowa DID allow marijuana flower, the limit would be the equivalent of 22.5 grams of a strain with 20% THC every 90 days. Most MMJ programs allow 28+ grams in a month.
However, Iowans have to accept these limitations for now. There have been efforts to fully legalize marijuana, but none have come close to succeeding. Realistically, it is perhaps best for cannabis advocates to focus on ensuring MMJ patients in Iowa can have more options before doing anything else.